leaf cutter ants at work


  • Local Time
  • Location: Museum of Science, Boston, Masachusetts, United States
  • Source: www.mos.org
  • Info: Live leafcutter ant webcam at the Museum of Science in Boston, Masachusetts. Large worker ants can be seen cutting off small pieces of leaf with their mouthparts, whilst other worker ants carry leaf pieces back to the fungus garden.

More info: Leafcutter Ants forage for leaves away from their nests, finding their way home by producing and laying down pheromone trails. The leaves the ants collect are used to feed their fungus gardens inside their nests. It is the fungus which is their food. Neither ant nor fungus can survive without the other. Their partnership has fuelled the leafcutters’ success—they come in more than 40 species, and have among the largest colonies of any ant.

Leaf cutting ant colonies may have up to five fertile queens, producing eggs. These eggs develop into larvae. Most of the larvae turn into sterile worker ants, but some develop into winged reproductive ants in the springtime. These swarming reproductives are much larger than the worker ants.

Leafcutter ants damage vegetation because they remove foliage in order to carry it back to their nests. They have been known to remove all the needles or leaves from a tree in one night. At night, workers will pick out a shrub or tree and swarm over it and cut circular-shaped pieces from the leaves.