Category Archives: Leaf cutter ants

For Dux: Cutters

DSCF1865 - Version 3DSCF1863Much as I hate seeing my plants stripped of leaves and flowers, I also love watching the precision of the leaf cutter ants.  Some go up into the plants to cut leaves.  Others wait below to carry them away.  I’ll take more photos tomorrow.

See also:  https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/09/21/pillage-and-warfare/

Pillage and Warfare

 Pillage and Warfare

As per Mandy’s request, I’m publishing these pictures.  As much as i admire the industry and organization of these fascinating creatures, it is also true that this year has been the worst in 13 years in my battle with the leaf cutter ants that have stripped my gardens time after time after time.  What used to be a once-a-year skirmish has turned into a year-round battle to try to preserve some of my greenery and flowers. 

DSC09398(Above:) Here you see bougainvillea, honeysuckle and hibiscus fallen to the tiny but effective jaws of the leaf cutters. This pile of leaf segments cut from the bushes above awaits transport to the nest.

DSC09392(Above:) A lone ant approaches his load, walking over the chalk line.  At the time, this Chinese Chalk was  my only defense against a garden completely stripped of leaves and flowers!

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(Above:) Comrades at arms  struggle to move a leaf over the chalk line, in the process coating their bodies with the lethal “chalk.”

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A lone ant vanishes into the crack in the concrete that leads to the nest.  A thin powder of the insecticide chalk can be seen on his hind quarters.

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An ant struggles to move his fallen comrade back to the nest.

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Too late, he himself falls.

DSC09397In the end, only the remnants of the harvested leaves are left to mark their former workplace.  This round against this nest, I seem to have won; but experience has taught me that they will be back!

For a fascinating look at the devastation army ants can wreak, I recommend that you read “Leningren Vs. the Ants” by Carl Stephenson.

 

Autumn Schmautumn

The Prompt: Autumn Leaves—Changing colors, dropping temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes: do these mainstays of Fall fill your heart with warmth — or with dread?

Autumn Schmautumn

The only colored leaves I see are going to be faux,
for autumn never visits in my part of Mexico.
In fact, those piles of autumn leaves are far back in my past.
Green on the leaves in Mexico just lasts and lasts and lasts.
It’s true that each leaf everywhere must one day be defeated,
but down here where I live, the only way leaves are unseated
is not by frigid temperatures. There’s no cold to unglue them.
Our only leaf-removal means is cutter ants that chew them!
The ones who cut them down are all the bravest and the best.
Their comrades wait below to carry them all to their nest.
Their robberies completed without the slightest peep,
their piles of leaves depleted in the nighttime while we sleep.
Our guard dogs doze on soundly as ants pass by in the dark,
letting all these thieveries go on without one bark.
And so I fear that this far south no autumn colors are viewed.
Our trees create no spectacle. They go from green to nude!
And though ants harvest all our leaves—just chew them off and take them,
at least they grant us favors in that we don’t have to rake them!

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