THE LEAFCUTTER ANTS OF COSTA RICA
Page Two

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Are you sure FTD started like this??
Looking out on our patio at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, I thought I might have had a few too many beers the previous night as I watched flowers go marching by. Closer inspection revealed a more artistic group of leafcutters parading by with a plethora of bright flowers.
Teamwork is the hallmark as a group of cutters has just finished cutting trough the stem and is preparing a leaf for the trip back to the nest. Hey! You're stepping on my feeler!
Berry soccer? Why not!
In the Rainforest, cutters utilize a wide variety of trees and plants to provide the leaves upon which their fungal gardens subsist. They also eat leaf sap, plant nectar and evidently like a juicy berry now and then. Actually, we found this soldier carrying it back to the nest. I guess this Sumo ant is the tractor-trailer version of the smaller worker caste.

 

HOME AT LAST !!

To put a leafcutter's work into human terms, the trip from the spot where the leaf was cut and carried back to the nest would be the size and weight equivalent of a running thirty miles at a four minute/mile pace while carrying 500 lbs on your back! No wonder she looks tired as she completes the journey and is just about to enter the opening to the nest.

Boy, I hope Marge has something good for dinner...I'm sick of leaves, leaves, leaves...


© Phillip Slosberg 2009
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