Forest Management: The Leaf Cutter Ants

Leafcutter Ants at Lower Dover

Leafcutter ants are a common sight while walking in the plantation or on the medicinal plant trail at Lower Dover Field Station and Jungle Lodge. They clear wide “highways” on the rainforest floor to transport their leaf supply back to the colony for harvesting. The ants don’t actually eat the leaves they carry. Worker ants are farming the leaves for fungus that forms on the leaf surface when within the colony.

A path cut by Leafcutter ants.

These ants have been known to clear nearly all the leaves of lime trees at Lower Dover in less that 24 hours. They will never clear all the leaves though because that would risk killing a future meal. Great forest management!

Another path cut by leafcutter ants.

Leafcutter ants are also neat freaks. They carefully remove all the waste from their colonies so their fungus harvest won’t spoil.  To combat their leaf assaults, simply collect this waste from top of their colony and mix it with water. Spray this solution on the leaves you are trying to protect, and the ants will stay clear for a month or more! This great organic gardening solution works in place of commercial poison every time.

 

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3 thoughts on “Forest Management: The Leaf Cutter Ants

  1. Fascinating animals, and a nice introduction to them. I’m glad I don’t life there cause I hate those creepy ants, also the small ones in Denmark

  2. Pingback: Foto Friday: Ant Attack | Lower Dover Field Journal

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