Monday, 13 September 2010

Check out our Colony of ever-growing Leaf-Cutter Ants!!


Atta cephalotes

Leaf-cutter ants originate in Central and South America where they live in forests. These industrious ants cut and carry pieces of leaves and flowers, carrying them overhead like huge parasols. The ants take back the leaf pieces to their huge underground nests by following a scent trail they leave behind them. Inside the nest, the leaf pieces are broken down and used for growing fungus. The ants carefully tend this fungus like farmers and feed on it.

Our Head  Keeper, Craig Holmes is really pleased with the progress of our South American Leaf-Cutting Colony – they seem to be thriving!  I’ve attached a couple of images taken earlier this afternoon showing some of the activity – ants carrying supplies of fresh soil/peat and pieces of leaves/vegetation from the feed platform down the rope to their ever-expanding nest – home to their queen!


Leaf-Cutter Ants feeding table (resized) JB Leaf-cuter Ants on rope 1 (JB) (colour-adjusted, resized & cropped)










Image above left shows rope leading from nest to feeding platform.  Image right shows feeding platform and bowl of peaty soil



Leaf-Cutter Ants nest showing fungus (2) cropped & resized

The image immediately above shows the Leaf-Cutter Ants nest – the central, grey area is the fungus that feeds the colony.

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