Monday, January 13, 2014

Look Up Leaf Cutter Ants, Will You?

Last night we ran out of water in the camper at about 8:45 PM.  We had just watched a movie, "La Entrega Inmediata", which was very good. It was in English but the cover is in Spanish so I won't know the title until I look it up. I decided to fill the camper tank so we had water in the morning and I went out and got the pump running.  While I pumped the water I explored the back part of the lot.

Terraced landscape, hole is about the size of a nickel.
We call the back part of our home "the land of the lost."  We only go back there to let Kobi pee before he goes to bed and Kobi will only go pee back there not poo.  He knows that "the land of the lost" is a forbidden place and will jog back to his corner pee and return as fast as he can.

The area back there belongs to the aunts.  To be specific Leaf Cutter Ants.  They have a colony that encompasses the entire back. These aunts have sculptured the entire landscape into a moon like landscape terraced using the sand that abounds back there.

Colony hole, red arrow points to trail to laguna.
Leaf Cutters only work at night so during the day all you can see is the terraces and their holes. At night it is a different story.  Millions of Leaf Cutters swarm out of their main nest hole and march in a line across the area to the cutting grounds.  The cutting grounds for this metropolis is across the malicon in the plants along the lagona. Because the ants march out of our yard and into the laguna area our fear of invasion is slightly less, but this could change at any time.

Trail crossing malicon to laguna cutting grounds.
I was a bit concerned about all the aunts and did a bit of research on the buggers.  They are almost impossible to stop and exterminate. They cut the leafs into pieces that are easy to transport and they take them down into their nest and mulch them up.  The mulch is used to grow fungus which the queen uses to feed the newly hatched ant larvae. I found that the aunt society was very sophisticated. The nest can be very large and I think our nest is one of the larger variety.

I took some pictures of the little buggers but they really don't do justice to the size of the colony. In conclusion we have decided to leave this area to the ants and venture into "the land of the lost" to take a quick pee and then leave.
Mediae are the generalized foragers.
Minors and Mediaes going underground.
Mediaes bring the leaf fragments back to the nest.

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