Australian Ants

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nepenthes, I once went with my grandchildren to an exhibit where they had the leaf cutter ant. I imagine that there are many species of leaf cutters, but these were incredibly remarkable.  They had the ants housed in an enormous "cage" we will call it, with a clear piece of tunnel that ran all around the room.  I watched these ants march for a long time to get to the place where they got the foliage, marched back to their colony and worked the greens.  This was years ago, going back in cobwebs of my memory, and it seemed that they chewed up the leaves and made some kind of fungus from it to feed, probably young.  These ants even had an area which was their burial ground, far away from the food source.  That really interested me watching these little guys going at their daily work.  I think that ants hold an incredible life plan. 

I watch the regular ants around my home alot when I am outside working.  They never cease to absolutely amaze me when they carry their food, whatever it be that is many times bigger than their own bodies.

I grow asparagus.  In the early summer we are plagued by the asparagus beetle.  It is actually a very pretty species, two species I have here I deal with.  One looks like an elongated lady beetle (which we have many too), the other just like an asparagus beetle (lol).  I do not like to use any pesticides (unless completely 100% natural, such as Bt) on my property.  So I spend a fair amount of time picking off these little insects and squishing them between my thumb and first finger.  They are hard little buggers to catch sometimes. They watch you and when you go to reach for them they moved over to the other side of the asparagus tip.  But I fool them, I pull down the frond and knock them off into my hand, then I can "squish their head".  It is yucky but it works.  I know, cause I see them, ants that await at the bottom of the asparagus shoots.  They quickly pick up these little vermin and take them home, I'm sure to have a wonderful dinner, I know they taste just like asparagus.

Now that is another story in itself.  Read on, IF YOU WANT TO ENTER THE WORLD OF THE WEIRD. ha, you'll laugh for sure.

My husband is a very funny man, he does things to tease me and oh he makes me laugh.  One day we both were out picking off these little bugs.  He said, "wonder if these taste like asparagus", so of course I sent a dare to him.  Now a dare is one that you never give to my dear husband.  He looked at me and said "OK, watch".  I grimmaced.  He picked one off (LIVE), and put it in his mouth.  I anticipated that he would just spit it back out.  He actually chewed this poor little thing up.  Had a smile on his face and told me that it tasted just like asparagus.  Oh brother!!!!  That poor insect, gave up its life to bring a smile to my face.

This was just like another time when I was digging in the garden and pulled out a very very large leatherjacket (mosquito hawk) larva.  Ugly, big and hideous things that they are.  He asked if I dared him to eat it.  Well, I cannot give in to not giving him a dare.  He that one did not taste very good for sure.  But he chewed it up anyways, I could see the look of horror on his face, (oh man I am actually laughing out loud right now, cause it was funny).  But he kept on chewing.  Then, when he was done, he spit this juicy big blob of stuff onto the grass.  Kind of reminds me of when I used to see my grandfather spitting out the tobacco juice from his plug of gross tobacco.

The things that people do with bugs.  Off topic, can't seem to stop with my stories once I get going.  Have an awesome day.  Nepenthes, I hope that one day you will get a place where you can set up all your "insect" stuff.  Great day.  Cindi

Their are 2 species of leaf cutter in the USA

Atta, and Acromrymex. Acromyrmex in the USA is allot less tropical, and Atta have complex caste systems. I haven't done to much research in atta but I know a few basic things. They do grow fungus, and this fungus is feed to the brood. The queens are usually VERY VERY large! Some averaging about 2 inches! Big hairy and ugly! Seeing as how they have populations in the 100 thousands you would understand why

Atta laevigata

If you can get a Permit from the FDA and want to spend about 150 dollars you can get a well established Atta colony online.
(this one is more diverse but not as impressive as the atta castes)

With Atta their are a few casts.
Male, Reproductive Female, Major, Sub Major, Minor and Sub Minor. Now their are all sorts of ranges, but thats what I'm going to call them for easier reading purposes, but basically they worker size can be any where from 1mm to 2.5 cm's.

hear is a good example

Acromyrmex are just really really really diverse in their habitat and species.

Trachymyrmex is the one im on the look out for it is the farthest north Fungus growing ant.

You're husband must be brave!



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