Do You Know The Amazing Farmers, Leaf-Cutter Ants & Grass-Cutter Ants?
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In recent years, when gardening in Central Florida, I’ve discovered the need to wear boots in order to avoid bites or cutting by grass-cutter or leave-cutter ants. To better understand these little critters, please refer to excerpt from wikipedia, in italics, below:
Leafcutter ants, a non-generic name, are any of 47 species of leaf-chewing ants belonging to the two genera Atta and Acromyrmex. These species of tropical, fungus-growing ants are all endemic to South and Central America, Mexico, and parts of the southern United States. Leafcutter ants can carry twenty times their body weight and cut and process fresh vegetation (leaves, flowers, and grasses) to serve as the nutritional substrate for their fungal cultivates.
Acromyrmex and Atta ants have much in common anatomically; however, the two can be identified by their external differences. Atta ants have three pairs of spines and a smooth exoskeleton on the upper surface of the thorax, while Acromyrmex ants have four pairs and a rough exoskeleton.
Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. In a few years, the central mound of their underground nests can grow to more than 30 m (98 ft) across, with smaller radiating mounds extending out to a radius of 80 m (260 ft), taking up 30 to 600 m2 (320 to 6,460 sq ft) and containing eight million individuals.
In the video “Leafcutter Ants, National Geographic“, below:
In the video “Leafcutter Ant Soldier vs Speckled House Spider, MONSTER BUG WARS“, below:
Within the leaf-cutter genus Atta, some species have evolved to strictly collect grass to feed their fungus gardens. It has been shown that grass-cutter ants are morphologically and behaviorally distinct from the other dicot specialized leaf-cutters to specialize on grasses. In the video “Grasscutter Ants Cultivating Crops – Insect Worlds – Episode 2 Preview – BBC Four“, below:
BBC Earth presents One Life. Narrated by Daniel Craig, written and directed by Michael Gunton & Martha Holmes, in the video “Army of grass cutter ants” One Life, BBC“, below:
So, fellow gardeners, be sure to wear boots if you are gardening in areas where these ants occur. You may also want to consider using Diatomaceous earth (DE) because DE is not only inexpensive and effective, it’s non-toxic to kids, birds, and pets. And yet it destroys ants, earwigs, slugs, beetles, ticks, fleas, cockroaches, and bed bugs. DE is made up of crushed fossilized skeletons of diatoms and algae. It is absorbed into the bug’s breathing tubes as well as their joints, eyes, etc. and works like little pieces of broken glass and scratches up the insects’ bodies then dries up their fluids.
Gathered, Researched, written, edited, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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