Leaf-cutting Ants Essay

6337 Words26 Pages
One of the most little known species of ants in North America is the leaf-cutter ant. This is mainly because it lives in tropical environments and it is not aggressive to animals or humans if not disturbed. The leaf cutting ant is a social insect. Alone the ant is virtually helpless but with the colony it can be a thing feared by animal and human alike.

The leaf-cutting ants have a very important role in the tropical forest. They create and manipulate the environment around them. They also can do major damage. The leaf-cutting or fungus-growing ants are distributed from northern Texas to central Argentina.

These ants are injurious since they cut the green vegetation from trees, shrubs and crops, and carry it into the nest, where they
…show more content…
It also protects the internal organs. The main feature of the ant is its head. The large solders have huge serrated blades which they can have up to 0.5 cm space between the mandibles. The size range can be from 1/16 to 1/2 an inch depending on the type of species.

The ants are divided up into three different types according to size. Minima (<5mm long), media (>5mm long) and soldiers (a distinct class with oversized head and mandibles and a total body length of more then 13mm) (Whitehouse & Jaffe 1996). The average worker leaf-cutter ant lives from 4-6 months (Howard, Henneman, Cronin, Fox, Hormig. 1996). The worker ants commonly perform superhuman feats. If we magnify the operation to human scale, so that an ant's 6-millimeter length grows into a meter and a half, the forager runs along the trail for a distance of about 15 kilometers at a velocity of 26 kilometers an hour.

Each successive mile (to convert to familiar Anglo-American sports distances) is covered in 3 minutes and 45 seconds, about the current human world record. The forager picks up a burden of 300 kilograms or more and speeds back to the nest at 24 kilometers an hour - hence 4 minute miles (Holldobler & Wilson, 1994).The queen is the largest of the ants and can reach length larger than 1/2 an inch and her life span can be 10 years or more (Smith. 1997). The queen has wings and when she decides to leave the nest she carries a small pellet of mycelium (the fungus) in a special
Get Access