Fungus-farming ants

Karolyn Darrow
July 20, 2016
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Queen ant with nurse ants
Karolyn Darrow

A fungus-farming ant colony is a complex society with division of labor among many size classes. In this close-up, tiny nurse ants tending to white ant larvae are dwarfed by the queen ant in the upper right. All the ants feed upon protein-rich food produced by a white-grey fungus that they cultivate underground. The fungus decomposes fresh, leafy greens brought underground by leafcutters, which can defoliate whole trees to feed the colony.

Photo by Karolyn Darrow