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Everything you need for a Leafcutter ant colony

Leafcutter ants are a little more challenging to keep. They form very large colonies, which increases their demand for space and food and they require different climatic conditions within the formicarium in order to be able to thrive successfully. However, if you pay attention to these parameters ​​and provide enough space, they are also suitable for beginners. Long ant trails, on which they carry cut up plant parts to their fungus garden, are particularly beautiful to look at. In addition, Leafcutter ants do not hibernate, which makes them interesting to look at all year round. In contrast to the weaver ants, which are only found in Asia, Australia and Africa, leaf cutter ants can only be found from North to South America.
 

Food for Leafcutter ants

Leafcutter species live on a self-grown mushroom (Leucoagaricus gongylophorus) which is cultivated by the workers with the leaves and flowers of plants and fruits. They are in what is known as an obligatory symbiosis with this fungus, which means that neither the fungus nor the ants can survive without each other. In order to cultivate the fungus, Leafcutter ants collect plant parts (preferably leaves, also grasses and rarely young branches), chew them and place the resulting plant pulp into the fungus, which serves as a breeding ground. The workers feed almost exclusively on the plant sap that is produced when chewing. They cover only about 5% of their food requirement with mushroom parts. The larvae, on the other hand, only feed on parts of the fungus.
 

Food for Leafcutter ants in the formicarium

Experience has shown that Leafcutter species in the Formicarium prefer to accept leaves and flowers from the rose like plant family (rosaceae). Branches with leaves, especially in the case of even smaller colonies, can also be placed in a small vase with water in the Formicarium in order to stay fresh longer. Possible feeding plants are: blackberry, raspberry, rose, boxtree, elder, linden, wild grape, locust tree, oak, maple, bird cherry, sour cherry and willow besides fruits like apples, orange, banana or grapes. In an emergency, oatmeal works too. It is advisable to spray the leaves with water before feeding so that the workers can ingest enough water. The offering of sugar water or honey water is also recommended.
 

Atta or Acromyrmex?

At least if you have already searched the Internet for offers to different Leafcutter colonies, you will notice that there are two different types of Leafcutter species. The first slightly smaller are the Acromyrmex species and the second slightly larger are the Atta species. Here are the main differences:
 

Acromyrmex

Acromyrmex is the smaller type of Leafcutter from South America that cuts flowering plants in the wild. In contrast to Atta, they wander long distances to their harvesting areas and also need longer walking distances to develop optimally when they are kept. This can be achieved, for example, by a separate feeding basin connected by pipes. Their colonies can reach up to around 20,000 individuals and in nature they nest under stones or in hollow tree trunks, for example. Sometimes they also build earth nests with many chambers, but not as large as with their relatives Attas. In addition, they do not train soldiers and the workers form fewer castes (fewer different sizes).
 

Atta

Atta is a very adaptable type of Leafcutter that also copes well with cooler temperatures. They are sometimes the most common ant species found in urban areas in Mexico. In the wild, Attas process a much broader mass of plant parts. For example, some Atta species also specialize in cutting grass, which is less well accepted by Acromyrmex species. Atta colonies reach a size of up to 5,000,000 to 8,000,000 individuals. This is one of the reasons why they are considered more like pests in South America than their relatives the Acromyrmex. For Atta species, one of the most important factors for a purchase decision, is that they train so-called minor, media and major workers (small, medium and large), divided into around 20 different castes and also train soldiers which is popular for many ant owners. In general, it can be said that Acromyrmex is much easier to keep than Atta. Not only do they form much smaller colonies (less space and less food required), they are also much more resistant and easier to care for.
 

Formicarium for Leafcutter ants

Most important for Leafcutter ants is a spatial separation of the different areas that they need to work and survive effectively. Small colonies can be kept in a single tank at the beginning. However, this quickly becomes a hindrance to the further development of the colony.

Leafcutter ants need a basin for nesting, which is also used as a mushroom chamber. They use a second basin as a waste chamber to get rid of dead animals, unneeded plant parts and dead mushroom remains away from the important and vulnerable nest chamber. A third basin is needed to search for food and water. In such a formicarium, consisting of three separate basins, you can keep Leafcutter species for about 1-2 years until they need at least more chambers for the expansion of their fungus garden.

Due to the special demands on the climate in the Formicarium, we recommend the use of technology to control the temperature and humidity. The best climatic conditions for all types of Leafcutter ants are more or less identical. We recommend adhering to the following values:
Temperature: Arena: 21 - 28 ° C Nest area: 24 - 28 ° C Waste chamber: 21 - 28 ° C
Humidity: Arena: 40 - 70% Nest area: 80 - 90% Waste chamber: 30 - 40%

 

ANTCUBE - Starter kit for leaf cutting ants - big
The set consists of 42 parts and is suitable for all leaf cutter ant species.
Size: XL
Shipping with Go logistics!
Shipping only possible in Germany.
549,90 €
 
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