04 January 2011

First Farmers

While hiking to the waterfalls pictured in the last post in the rain forest, I came across a long line of leaf cutter ants hard at work. Look closely and you'll see the tiny ants carrying (relatively) large leaf parts back to their comnunal home.

At first folks thought they were eating the leaves but, no, they were piling the leaves up so a certain kind of mold could grow on them and they then eat the mold. Growing food for their sustenance. Farmers. The first. Just one of the amazing things I've seen in the rain forest.


  1. Yes, that is amazing! I never knew ants were farmers. That's very interesting and fascinating.

  2. I agree, amazing. Nature is a complex system, and there is still much we could learn from it.

    When is your walk in Jacksonville?

  3. It's amazing to me that ants evolved from wasps - that has to make it one of the most successful evolutions of all time - because I figure there must be many more times ants than there are wasps. Industrious little critters.

  4. Oh my, that's ingenious! Thanks for reporting this to us. Live and learn.

  5. Our zoo has a "tropical encounters" indoor site; in one feature you can watch leaf-cutter ants through a window that's about one inch by three or four feet long. I love that you spotted them in the wild. (True story: I saved a story out of National Geographic for my grandson before he was even born, figuring he might want to do a report on these ants some day. Geeky me!)

  6. Oh if only we humans would pay more attention....

  7. I am always amazed by the size & relative weight of what tiny insects, particularly ants, can carry.

    Happy New Year!

  8. You could have easily missed this interesting shot.....
    I enlarged it and is very clear that they are carrying the leaves!

  9. What an excellent eye you have. And what an interesting -- smart! -- thing for the little guys to do. So much is missed by those not taking the time to look closely. Thank you for looking closely ... and sharing what you saw!

  10. DJan, I'm learning new things daily and stand in awe.
    Patti, I run the Half marathon with my daughter on Feb. 13.
    Lou, I never knew that, nor do you cease to amaze me with your encyclopedic tidbits. I'll look it up for sure.
    Rosaria, It's thrilling to keep learning as I age.
    Blissed Grandma, I love thinking about you saving a precious article to thrill your grandson someday. Nice image. And in person is a kick. Bring him here!
    Lauren, Trully.
    CA Girl, Me too. And New Year blessings to you too.
    Nanny, The line of these ants is hard to miss actually and the size of their leaf hill can be huge. You're right about the enlargement- wow!
    Lisa, Thanks. I'm glad to share and there's more to come!


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