Leafcutter ants: carry up to 50x their weight by gripping leaves in their mouths, making them among the world's strongest animals relative to size
Phorid flies parasitize leafcutter ants by laying eggs in their heads. Larvae consume the ant's brain, turning it into a "zombie" until the head falls off, allowing flies to emerge
Leafcutter ants' vibrating jaws generate high-frequency sound waves, enabling them to cut and stiffen leaves, flowers, and foliage with precision.
Leafcutter ants enlist armies of workers to strip entire trees of leaves, carrying up to 110 pounds of plant material per day. They're relentless harvesters
Leafcutter ants tend to their fungus garden by using leaves as fertilizer, benefiting both ants and fungi in a symbiotic relationship
Leafcutter ants combat deadly escovopsis parasites through defensive strategies: acid spray and microbial allies. Balance prevents plant adaptation
Leafcutter ants (Atta and Acromyrmex) form huge colonies with millions of ants, constructing intricate tunnel systems spanning miles
Leafcutter ants communicate plant hazards through chemical messages in their waste, with up to 35% of workers visiting the colony waste dump daily.
Leafcutter ants rely on scent trails, not sight, to navigate and communicate. Scout ants lay trails, attracting more ants and forming super highways for efficient group travel.
Plants near leafcutter ants evolve defenses: tough leaves, fuzziness, or sticky sap. Scientists seek natural ant repellants from studying these adaptations.