Researchers around the world have brought together a list of over 12000 species of ants. The number spreads out to every landmass except for Antarctica and other landmasses that are inaccessible.
Overall, studies show that ants are more social in their structure than people, come in organizations also called colonies, have specific living spaces or habitats and the feeding follows a particular process.
What they are
The numerous species are hard to study thus undergo further classifications. One of these is the leaf cutter. These are ants that include around 40 different types of classification. Ants feed on flowers, cut down grasses and cut through leaves carrying them towards their colonies for storage.
Ants convert the fodder they bring together and transform into nutritious fungi. Anyone can witness the process as ants form long lines on the jungle floor carrying bits and pieces to their colonies.
The colonies have a very organized structure with every ant having a position and a function. Dimensions of a single settlement determine the actual sum of ants existing in it. However, each province does sustain specific classifications.
These fall into:
- Workers: These are the smallest in size in the nest. Their functionalities including protecting and caring duties for the maggots or producing sustenance for storage.
- Soldiers: Their size is slightly bigger than that of the laborers. They are the defense system of the cluster and are first on the line. Their main aim is to prevent any danger from coming to the settlement.
- Generative: Remember that line of ants bringing bits of green plants and any other sustenance substance on the jungle floor, and they are reproductive. Their main goal is too severe, take and deliver food/ sustenance in its raw form to the colony.
- Guards: These form the largest ants you have ever seen. As the name suggests, they guard the cluster, help clear pathways for the reproductive, and protect against larger predators.
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What do they eat?
Plant material these little in size insects bring into the colony undergoes a biochemical change. The conversion produces a subterranean fungus following reactive modifications. The (mutualism) process is of mutual benefit as the fungus delivers them with essential sustenance. On the other hand, ants produce or secrete crucial compounds from their bodies (amino acids) necessary to the production process.
In other words, these insects require the fungus for their cluster to stand and endure over time, especially during the cold season. However, some plant matter releases toxic material when put into the process. Ants can easily identify such things and strop their collection. Also, they feed on plant sap.
How do they appear at a glance?
At a glance, the ants are of different sizes. The little being the workers are 0.06 inches on the lower side, and the largest workers are 0.5 inches. Reproductive being slightly larger is 0.5 inches for the short and largest go up to 0.7 inches. The ant queen can go all the way to an inch in size.
When working, they appear to you like a long thick rope of approximately 600 feet. Their movements appear coordinated following through the jungle floor. The line is a column of ants bringing sustenance to the nest. They bring forage that sometimes contains parasite can pose a danger to the maggots (larvae) of the nest. Therefore, laborer ants ride on top of the larger reproductive ants removing any contaminant.
Home or habitats
Many species are present in the tropical central regions with South America and Mexico taking the lead. Some species are home to Arizona. Other states that house different ant species include Texas, California to the south, and Louisiana to the west.
Their homes remain underground with full nests of each class of ants. Agricultural areas such as farms also form perfect homes while some find the city life worth of encroaching.
How big is a single ant colony/ nest?
A nest has a single satellite and several mounds surrounding it for a measure. These have long dimensions with the colony extending to over 100 feet. The small hills forming the rest of the nest can go all the way to 260 feet. In total, you can presume that the colony occupies approximately 6460 square feet. If going down into the earth, the territories are about 6 feet deep.
In a single colony, approximately 8 million occupants are present at any single moment. The ants prepare millions of small in size chambers in the territory measuring a whole foot to house its occupants. Some of these chambers have specific functionalities. For instance, some home the maggots, and others form fungal estates while some form the dumps.
Their waste management method is worth emulating. Since the ants’ gardens are prone to contamination or parasites, they remove their waste and keep it far from the growing fungus. The function falls to the older ants who carry the debris and other waste to a specific area outside the colony.
Are you facing leafcutter ants in your home?
Well, leafcutters are outdoor creatures. It does not mean they cannot invade your home, but if present, they are just looking for sustenance. If space or fissure or the door is open, they will follow the path towards their sustenance sources. It is important to know that they won’t stay in your home for long.
These present a huge challenge, especially with their harvesting habits. A single colony can bring down a whole citrus tree by harvesting its leaves in a little more than a day.
If you have farmland, an ant infestation can destroy the farmland, harvests, and damage roads. These feed on green plants and a farm affords the best that humans have to offer.
An ant layer can decrease the number of yields you get at the end of the farming period. A perfect case is in South America where estimates as to the losses range in the millions for farmers and other economists.
Eliminating the ants
Elimination is not always the option as these are part of the ecosystem. However, you have to assess and determine if these pose a challenge to you as an individual. If not, let them be, but if there is a chance of losses like in farmland, a pest eradication process can commence.
Seek trained professionals to deal with your ant problems. Their expertise will help track the ants to their colonies and proceed to eradicate the issue you are facing. However, you may decide on a management plan that supports you with your harvests and protects the ants, for those of us who are environmentally conscious.
Use the waste from the ant colony for your farm, and the ants will not visit. Use an adhesive to capture the ants.
Leafcutter ants are some of the most diverse in hierarchy and functionality. Their social structures, sustenance, and waste management are some of the best. Also, they are individuals in a functioning environment, ensuring mutual benefits. Getting rid of them follows a simple process like using their waste against them or hiring a pest controller to eradicate them.