These Leaf cutter Ants were caught red legged with our cashew leaves the other day! We had to get a camera before spraying our organic poison on them. In a spray bottle mix dish soap, dirt from the ant nest, and water around the base of the tree and on the leaves. This does the trick 90% of the time. Supposedly there is a Maya prayer for the other 10 percent? We have to learn that one!
We spotted this unknown yellow orchid in bloom at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge. It seems like the ants were acting as pollinators for the orchid. Notice the root system holding the plant to the bark of the Cedar tree. Does anyone know what kind of orchid this is?
A few weeks ago we featured a story on Leafcutter Ants and their forest management skills. You can read the post here.
The story was also picked up for the Circus of the Spineless #69, a blog carnival, which was hosted by our friends at Wild About Ants. Go and check them out for other cool posts about all things invertebrates.
After we posted the story, we encountered some more Leaf Cutters hard at work, and had the chance to capture some pretty cool pictures.
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.
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!
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.