Trail of leafcutter ants (Atta sp.) with leaves

Trail of leafcutter ants (Atta sp.) with leaves

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Credit: WILLIAM ERVIN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Leaf cutter ants. View of leaf cutter ants (Atta sp.) carrying cut pieces of leaves back to their nest. Several smaller workers are seen around them, protecting the larger ants from parasites. These ants, which are found in tropical and sub- tropical America, build large underground nests. They gather leaf material and chew it up, forming a nutrient medium in the nest upon which grows a particular species of fungus. The ants harvest this fungus as food for themselves and their brood. A single colony can contain over a million workers. The area covered in the hunt for leaves is enormous, and ants may travel over 100 metres from the nest. Photographed in Costa Rica.

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Keywords: animal, ant, atta sp., carrying leaves, cooperation, costa rica, insect, insecta, invertebrate, invertebrates, leaf, leafcutter, leafcutter ant, leafcutter ants, leafcutter ants carrying, leave, leaves, nature, trail, wildlife, with leaves, zoology

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