Web Cam: Leaf Cutter Ants in Action

WINCHESTER, United Kingdom — Although tiny, ants are extraordinarily powerful creatures. One species, the leafcutter ant, can actually carry almost 10 times its body weight. That’s like a 200 pound man carrying a 2,000 pound car over his head.

The Marwell Wildlife Center in the United Kingdom has a live cam featuring leafcutter ants at work. What’s interesting, leafcutter ants don’t eat the foliage they chop down with their sharp mandibles. Instead they carry it into their underground nests and turn it over to smaller ants that chew the leaves into a pulp. The pulp is then stored with ant feces and fungus spores, eventually becoming a crop the ants will eat.

Leafcutter ants can be orange, brown, red or black. They typically range from .1 to .5-inches long, smaller than some of the leaves they carry. The queen may be over an inch in length, but instead of cutting down leaves she spends her life cycle laying eggs.

For more on leafcutter ants, watch the YouTube video below.

 

 

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