Leafcutter Ant Facts For Kids And Adults, Pictures & Videos
Play and learn about Leafcutter Ants. Free online games for kids and adults. Leafcutter Ant Quiz These unique ants have evolved an advanced agricultural system based on ant-fungus mutualism. are at risk of being attacked by the phorid fly, a parasitic pest which lay eggs into the crevices of the worker ants head. Phorid flies will lay their eggs in the heads of fire ants while the ants are still alive. people in Colombia enjoy toasting and eating a species of leaf-cutter ant. (*BIOMES* Leafcutter ant- tropical rainforests and semi-tropical forests of Central and South America, and in parts of southern North America.. | Phorid Fly- South.Phorid flies, a natural parasite of the ants
It is thought that the ants improve the richness of the soil, and, by removing leaves from the trees, allow sunlight to reach the lower levels of the forest. Leafcutter Ant Colony Facts Leafcutter ant workers collecting leaves Leafcutter ant social structure is extremely complex. There can be over one million ants in a single colony! Leafcutter ant nests are complex underground structures with multiple chambers and passages. Nests can be from 30m2 to 35m2 in area, and several metres deep, with up to 8, chambers and tunnels 70m long, depending on the species.
Each ant has a role to play within the colony, and their size and physical appearance reflects what their job is within the colony. Minims mainly work inside the nest, tending to the fungus and ant larvae. Mediae carry heavier loads back to the nest.
Majors provide additional security when the nest is threatened. Some species of leafcutter ants remove waste material from the nest and take it to special areas, others have chambers within the nest to store waste. When carrying loads back to the nest, minors are susceptible to attack from phorid flies. These flies are parasitic, and lay eggs on the heads of the ants.
Parasitism - Symbiosis Website-Alissa C
The video below has some great views of leafcutter ants at work! Growing Food Once the leaves are brought in to the nest, the ants turn them into food for the fungus garden. This process involves removing the waxy outer layer of the leaves then chewing them up.
The food is then taken to the fungus garden. The fungus grown in the garden provides food for the queen and other ants inside the nest. Workers and foragers get nutrition from the leaves.
Reproduction Once a year, the colony will produce winged ants called alates of both sexes. These ants fly high in the air to mate. After doing so, the males die and the females lose their wings and attempt to start their own colonies. The top left picture is of the parasite in the fish, and the top right is of the parasite itself.
As their name suggests, the isopod parasite eats the tongue by sucking the blood from it until it dries out and falls off and afterwards taking the place of the tongue, occasionally sucking more blood or feeding on fish mucus.
This is a very unpleasant experience for the fish which demonstrates that the fish is affected negatively by this relationship and the parasite benefits, which is why it is an example of parasitism.
The parasites are born males and when they enter the fish through their gills and take the place of their tongue, they become females.
Leafcutter Ant Facts For Kids
The female then grows large, its eyes shrink, and its legs stretch out, helping to anchor it to the mouth of the fish. If a male enters a fish with the tongue already being a female parasite, it will mate with it. The female then gives birth to males that then must search for their own host to inhabit. Whilst highlighting how there remains a wealth of hidden biological diversity right under our noses, I became particularly interested in this story for another reason.
A quick search demonstrated the many varied life cycles this family possesses from fungus to flesh feedersbut what grabbed my attention were those that act as brain eating, ant-decapitating parasitoids! These flies were definitely worth a bit of further research. A variety of ways to make a living Phorid flies are a single family within the order Diptera, which contains the true flies. They are small insects, typically between 0. Photo credit Halvard Hatlen, hosted wikicommons.
With approximately 4, species known worldwide, most dwelling in tropical latitudes, these flies possess an incredible variety of life styles. This latter group of phorids are extremely valuable to forensic entomologists. But as fascinating as these life styles are, it is those that consume ants heads from the inside that naturally I was most interested in.