[picture courtesy of Ant colony]

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Atta texana [There are many different species of  leafcutter ants all over the world. They all have the basic same features with several exceptions when adapting to their enviorment. This is the name of the leafcutter species located at the FortWorth Zoo.]

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE : Leaf cutter ants can be found throughout Central and South America and in south USA
HABITATE :  Their nest are usually in places like a rain forests or a place that grows alot of vegitation
                         Their nest can go as long as 8-15ft under ground. It can cover up to 3,000 to 4,500 sqft.
DIET IN THE WILD : Even though they are leafcutter ants, it what they do with the leafs that is important. They 
                                    collect all those leaves and other debris and form a nest that grows fungus.
                                     They do eat leaf juice and drink plant nectar. But their main source
                                    source of food is fungus.
CONSERVATION STATUS: This species is not protected.
LOCATION AT THE ZOO : The leaf-cutter ant can be found in the Mountain and Deserts Building in the Ft.Worth Zoo.

Here is a picture of the leaf-cutter ants at the zoo.

Coloring: They range from a dark red to a rusty brown

---------------------[picture courtsey of Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, TexasA&M University] 
Basic body description:They appear to be a relatively large ant with a spiny body and much longer legs. 
                                      The queen can have wings. They have 4 legs on each side and two parts of a cast 

---------------------on each side of their face.[picture courtesy of  tightloop.com] ------------------------ 

                                They use these casts to strip to strip leaves off -------------
                                     of plants. The casts vary in size depending their job function.[see pic][picture courtesy of David Nash]
Size: The queen averages 3/4in to 2in long. The workers range from 1/4in to 1/2in. The larger ants with larger casts
         do the leaf cutting. The smaller ants with the smaller casts carry,clean and cut the pieces of a leaf. Click here to see different ant sizes.

ACTIONS IN THE WILD : Colonies are usually found in well-drained sandy soil and yet are near high moisture areas  like a creek bed or ditch. Worker ants are active from May to September. They are most active at night.

[picture coutesy of  David Nash]
A Parts of leaves are cut from vegetation. D: The workers make the leaves into mulch, which is then used in the colony's fungus garden.
B : Leaf sections are carried away in trails. E: The Queen sits among the fungus garden laying eggs. When the larva emerge they will feed of the fungus and be cared for by special workers.
C: The sections are taken back to the nest. F: When the nutrients have been removed from the leaf material, the waste is placed in these dump chambers. Dead ants and dead fungus is also placed here.
 SOCIAL ORGANIZATION : The queen only lays eggs thats all she does.
                                                  The workers protect her, the colony and delivery food.
                                                  Their are three major types of wokers.
-------------------------------------- ------------                                                                       [picture courtesy of Woodrow Teachers Foundation]
Cutter: The larger ants that actually cut the leafs off.
Worker: Average size ants that transport the pieces to the colony.
Hitchhikers: Juvenile ants that clean and cut the pieces while riding on top of other ants.
REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR : The Queen is the only fertile ant of the whole colony. If she dies then unless
                                                     by chance another queen comes by, the colony will die off.
EXTRA INTRESTING FACTS: -When the leafcutter ants prune plants it stimulates new plant growth.
                                             - Deforestation is a major problem. It causes this species to spread and become a 
                                                      pest problem. They do approx. 1$ billion in damage in USA each year.

For anymore questions you can reach
Lisa Arneson, the author at

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Ant colony.org
Ant controls.com
Chewing insects
Atta ant home page
Acromyrmex versicolor
Invertebrates at the Fort Worth Zoo