Here in Texas there are many different types of ants that you may see on your property or inside your home. Fire ants, carpenter ants, Pharaoh ants, rover ants, acrobat ants, crazy ants, leaf cutter ants, and Argentine ants are just some of the species that A-Tex Pest Management run into when we come out and help our customers. How on earth do you know what type of ants you even have at your home? Knowing about the different species can help you know what you might be dealing with. Today we will talk about the leaf cutter ant so that you will know if that is the ant species that you have on your property.
Leaf Cutter Ant Species
The name leaf cutter ant actually refers to 47 different species of ants that all chew leaves. Leaf cutter ants can be found in South and Central America, Mexico, and parts of the southern United States. The different leaf cutter species belong to either the Atta or the Acromyrmex genera. They can be identified by just a few simple differences. Atta ants have three pairs of spines and a smooth exoskeleton while Acromyrmex ants have four pairs of spines and rough exoskeleton.
Leaf Cutter Ant Identification
Leaf cutter ants are rust brown to dull dark brown in color. Their legs and abdomens are usually a little paler than the rest of their body. They have six legs and antennae. As mentioned above they have three or four spines depending on what genera they belong to. They range from 1/16 of an inch to ½ of an inch in length.
Leaf Cutter Ant Fungus & Diet
This species of ant is named due to their feeding preferences. Leaf cutter ants gather leaves which they then use to raise a fungus for food. They do not actually eat the leaves that they cut and carry to their nests. They will travel up to 600 feet from their nest to gather these leaves. While 600 feet does not sound like an extremely long distance when you consider how small ants are this distance is quite far. They will also eat caterpillar droppings, corn, cornmeal, flour, rice, peas, wheat, oats, chops, bread, cake, chicken feed, sugar, beans, and ground coffee.
Leaf Cutter Ant Castes
Like many other ant colonies each ant has their own specific role that they need to fulfill. The worker ants tend to the leaves in the fungus garden. They are called the tiny protectors or minims. Minor ants are responsible from protecting the leaves from flies and wasps that try to get into their leaves. Mediae ants are the foragers. They cut leaves and bring them back to the next. Soldiers defend the colony against any ants that the minor ants cannot protect them against. They keep the foraging trails safe for the mediae.
Leaf Cutter Ant Colony Size
The leaf cutter ants colonies tend to be very large. They can grow to be up to 10 million ants strong. Their nests tend to be larger than other types of ants. Their nest has to be larger to accommodate the large number of ants that need to live in it as well as they fungus gardens.
Ant Pest Inspections, Control Treatments, Removal & More in Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville, Cedar Park & Austin Texas
If you have leafcutter ants on your property the sheer volume of them can make them seem impossible to get rid of. A-Tex Pest Management can come out and help devise a plan that will help you get rid of these ants. Contact us today!