THE LEAFCUTTER ANTS OF COSTA RICA
Fifty million years before Man planted his first crop, they began supporting vast populations with sophisticated farming systems. The methods used were ecologically sensitive and are the prototype of sustainable agriculture. Their habitats utilize sophisticated waste management systems and their social structure is intricate with every need of the society provided by specialized members of that society. There is no unemployment in their society, all members are provided for and all members work daily for the common good and defense of that society. Who are the beings of this enlightened society? Benevolent aliens? Inhabitants of a parallel universe? Democrats? Nope, they are the Leafcutter Ants!
During our recent travels through Costa Rica,one of my favorite activities was observing and photographing these amazing little critters in action. I wanted to put some of these images and observations on the CritterImages site and when I sat down to write a piece on the leafcutters, I ran across a magnificent web site called “The Lurker's Guide to Leafcutter Ants” by Alan San Juan. After exploring all the wonderful material on the site, I realized that I could add nothing more than my images and a few descriptive notes. Fantastic job, Alan!
So, I hope you enjoy these images and then head right for Alan San Juan's web site to learn all about these amazing little critters.
Click on any image below to scurry over to the "full-size" page
Click on Next For More Ant Action
Early morning and a team of leafcutters arrive on
a likely patch of leaves to begin the day's work
An industrious worker has already trimmed the upper leaf into shape and begins cutting through the base of the stem in preparation for the trip back to the nest Here is the same busy ant a few minutes later as she has almost finished cutting through the stem There are several different castes within leafcutter society ranging in size from the smallest who feed the larvae and tend the fungus gardens to the "Sumo" soldiers who protect the colony from large threats such as armadillos and nosy photographers