La Selva (Mon., 3/15/09) – The Hardest Workers at La Selva
by Robyn Walker -- March 16th, 2009
You see these guys tramping through the forest and grounds day and night, hard at work and never seeming to rest. They haul objects much larger than themselves through mud, over tree roots and down treacherous slopes without even breaking a sweat. They are the leafcutter ants.
A lot of people have already blogged about some of the more “interesting” wildlife we’ve seen in both Palo Verde and La Selva, but it’s the smaller, more abundant creatures that keep catching my eye. Walking through the dry forest or the wet forest, or even across parking lots, you can usually count on seeing a winding trail of leaf-wielding ants, moving back and forth relentlessly like cars on a two-lane highway.
As the name suggests, these ants spend their lives cutting small chunks out of leaves, hoisting them above their heads and bringing them back to their nests.
Unlike the smaller fire ants and the larger and far scarier bullet ants, these insects don’t seem too interested in attacking nosy humans, and I haven’t yet heard of somebody being bitten by one (although who knows, it may happen!) I’ve seen many a leafcutter stepped on, because careless feet happened to stumble on their trails. However, as dedicated as they are, the remaining ants just pick up their leaves, move around the obstructions, and just keep on trekking.