Q:

Why Do Leaf Cutter Ants Eat Fungus?

A:

Quick Answer

Leaf cutter ants eat fungus to help them digest their food and for the nutrients the fungus supplies. Adult leaf cutter ants also cultivate the fungus and feed it to the growing ant larvae, which eat nothing else. The ants and the fungus have a symbiotic relationship, which means that they depend on each other for survival.

Continue Reading
Related Videos

Full Answer

The fungus used by the ants only grows in leaf cutter colonies and cannot reproduce on its own. The ants cultivate the fungus underground by feeding it pieces of flowers and leaves, which they transport to a fungus-type garden.The fungus helps convert the leaves into carbohydrates.

The ants also use the cut leaves to make compost. They chew and fertilize them, weeding out any other plants in the garden. They cultivate the fungus much like a farmer cultivates crops. If a queen leaf-cutter ant leaves to form a new colony, she carries a piece of the fungus with her to begin a new garden. Different leaf cutter ant species use different types of fungus.

Leaf-cutter ants are prolific. Colonies often contain millions of individuals that can completely defoliate a full-sized tree in a single day. The colonies are made up of different classes of ants, including the queen, workers and drones.

Learn more about Ants

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What Do Red Ants Eat?

    A: Red ants eat nearly anything that they can find including plants and other insects. The ants are scavengers and take advantage of many food sources. Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What Do Fire Ants Eat?

    A: Fire ants are omnivorous insects that eat many different kinds of animal and plant material. They prey on small animals like mice, ground dwelling amphibia... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Do Ants Eat Termites?

    A: Not only do ants eat termites, but ants are one of the primary predators of this wood-eating insect. Sometimes ants help control termite populations depend... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Do Black Ants Eat Termites?

    A: Black ants do eat termites (also known as white ants) as they are natural enemies. The predation is slow and can last from several hours to few days. The i... Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore