Leafcutter Ant (a.k.a. Parasol Ant)
Atta cephalotes

Photo
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Range and habitat
The leafcutter ant is native only to the Americas in the Western hemisphere. It can be found in the most southern parts of Mexico and South America from Ecuador to Brazil.

Natural diet:
Leafcutter ants feed exclusively on the fruiting bodies of the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus.

Size / weight range:
Worker leafcutter ants range in size from 2 mm (0.08 inches) to 15 mm (.59 inches) in length. The Queen is the largest member of the colony with a length of 20 millimeters (0.87 inches).

Interesting Fact:
Leafcutter ants are members of a group of ants that have a symbiotic relationship with fungus. The leaves that are cut by the ants are not actually eaten; instead, the ants carry the leaves back to the colony and take them to special chambers that are specifically excavated for growing a fungus. As the fungus grows on the chewed up leaves, it produces fruiting bodies which the ants harvest for food.

This species is considered an agricultural pest in the wild, and is not endangered.

Location at The Toledo Zoo:
The Forest area in Nature's Neighborhood

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