Why am I sharing a photo of ants? Well, let me tell you these aren’t just any old ants. These are leafcutter ants and they are incredible little creatures. But the real reason I am sharing them is that they represent great teamwork. The whole colony working together to survive and achieve goals. It’s teamwork that’s got my and my colleagues through the last couple of weeks.
We just undertaken a huge project to upgrade our core systems. It was a 6-month project that we have pulled off in just 3. I didn’t do this alone though. We couldn’t have done it without teamwork, not just my immediate team but the business as a whole. All working together to achieve a goal. I am proud to be a part of that team.
The leafcutter ant
This particular photo of leacutter ants displaying their teamwork was taken at Chester Zoo. I’ve said before how much we love it there and despite being one (if the the) smallest animals on display there I think they’re great.
Thanks to Mother Nature Network for the follow five great facts about these ants:
1. Leaf-cutter ants don’t eat the leaves they cut and carry to their nests. While it might seem like they’re vegetarians creating a massive salad bar inside their nests, they’re actually collecting those leaves to feed to their fungus gardens. It’s the fungus they grow from the decomposing leaves that’s their food. Yes, they need the leaves, but only in the way that we need fertilizer to grow our crops.
2. A leaf-cutter ant colony is made of ants that fill different roles, such as workers and soldiers. But a surprising role is that of a tiny protector. There are ants whose job it is to protect leaves from parasitic flies and wasps. These ants, called minim ants, ride on the leaves and pluck off any parasites that could cause disease or destruction if the parasite made its way into the ant colony.
3. Leaf-cutter ant colonies can be up to 10 million ants strong, and they need space for all those ants plus their fungus gardens, nurseries, trash chambers and other chambers within their nest. So just how big can a leaf-cutter ant nest get? According to Marietta College:
“A large nest can have thousands of chambers, some of these may be a foot or so in diameter. Some chambers are used for brood, others for the fungal gardens and, in some species, there are chambers used for trash… Scientists studying the nests have used bulldozers to uncover them.”
4. Starting a new colony isn’t an easy job. And it’s up to a young queen to give it her all if she wants to start a new colony. Winged ants, both females and males, leave their nests in large numbers to take part in what’s known as a “nuptial flight” or “revoada.”
A female and potential queen needs to mate with several males then return to the ground to find a place to start her fungus garden and begin a future colony. Only about 2.5 percent of queens will succeed in establishing a colony.
5. Leaf-cutter ants are incredible workers, and it’s no wonder they’re considered a major crop pest. They are able to strip a tree of its foliage in less than 24 hours. And studies show that more than 17 percent of leaf production by plants surrounding a leaf-cutter ant colony goes straight into that big, fungus-growing nest.
- Date of capture: 22th February 2009
- Camera: Canon ESO 450D
- Lens: Canon EF 75-300mm
- Exposure: 1/100 sex | f/5.6 | ISO400 | 300mm
Thanks for reading