A small Acromyrmex versicolor leafcutter colony similar to the one shown in this page and gallery.
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Why leafcutters are special
These are not your typical ants! These ants have sharp jaws that cut leaves and flowers into tiny pieces. They carry the plant matter back to their nest where the pieces decay. Fungus grows in the decaying leaves and flowers, and the ants eat this fungus. We call this a “fungus garden” and the ants are the farmers. Each colony contains one or more queen ants that lay eggs into the fungus. After about a year, most colonies will only have one remaining queen who was deemed fit by the workers. The other queens are killed off one by one and we aren’t sure exactly how they decide who to keep and who to let go.
How to take care of them
Keep the thermostat at or below 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The nest needs to remain humid so it’s important to follow the watering schedule. The nests we sell have “water ports” on opposite ends and that’s where you add a small amount of water every 3 or 4 days. The outworld is where you will add leaves and flowers. We have found that the colonies prefer dried vegetation but it’s OK to experiment with fresh. Just make sure there aren’t any little bugs on the flowers or leaves. We have also found that steel cut oats are popular with the ants. They are able to cut them into smaller pieces to add to the fungus.