Leafcutters versus army ants: Cutting the Line

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Leafcutters versus army ants.

Leafcutters vs. Army ants: Cutting the Line

Photo by Tim Brown
Website: Infinite World

Neotropical army ants are primarily predators of the immature stages of various social insects. Although leaf-cutter ants (Atta and Acromyrmex sp.) are one of the dominant and most widespread ants in the same areas, Atta workers and Eciton foragers typically ignore one another during encounters in the field (Rettenmeyer 1963). The only exceptions involve army ants of the genus Nomamyrmex, and there have been some reports of predation by these ants on Atta and Acromyrmex species (Swartz 1998; Sanchez-Pena and Mueller 2002).

In the image above, an army ant column manages to bisect the foraging line of an Atta colony. The leafcutters mill confusedly on either side of the army ants, while the latter tensely guard their passing comrades.

For an interesting narrative depicting the attack of Nomamyrmex army ants on a small Atta colony, click here.

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