Monday, November 24, 2008

Ant hill

This is an ant hill in the forest in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It is more than one meter high and at least twice that far in diameter. I hope that the photo gives a impression of the huge volume of this ant hill. In some tropical rain forests, ants are the largest biomass of the animal world.

There can be as many as 8 million leaf cutter ants in one colony. The ants are divided into four groups or castes with specialized duties, depending on their size. The smaller ones remain in the nest tending to food production. I will reveal how they do that the day after tomorrow. The next larger groups defends the nest. The next larger group carries the leaves back to the nest. The largest ants are defenders of the ants that carry the leaves back to the nest.

I posted a photo a week or so ago ago of a caterpillar and mentioned that I usually refrain from showing bugs, other than butterflies. I was surprised to receive several comments from people who encouraged me to go ahead and show bugs. Therefore, I am posting this ant hill today and tomorrow will show the an example of the remarkable behavior of leaf cutter ants.


Sharon said...

I remember these when we went for our hike in the forest. They were scattered with broken leaves. I was amazed at the size of the ant hills.

glenda said...

Wow! Pretty amazing.

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