Leaf-cutting ants on a branch

Leaf-cutter ants

The farmers of the insect world, leaf-cutter ants grow their own food in underground fungus farms. Pieces of leaf are carried hundreds of metres in impressive processions, with each ant carrying a piece up to 50 times its own body weight. That's like one of us carrying a medium-sized van. The leaves are used to create fungus gardens that feed the whole colony - millions and millions of ants. Soldiers protect the huge nest and the irreplaceable queen at all costs, as Sir David Attenborough discovered while delivering a piece to camera from the top of an ant nest for Trials of Life.

Scientific name: Atta

Rank: Genus

Common names:

  • Leaf-cutter ants,
  • Leafcutter ants,
  • Parasol ants

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Distribution

The Leaf-cutter ants can be found in a number of locations including: Amazon Rainforest, North America, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Leaf-cutter ants distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

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    A video collection featuring bugs and insects in amazing close up selected by insect expert and TV presenter George McGavin, with Goliath spiders, killer centipedes, ants and moths.

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