Margaret Zinser of MZ Glass... musings on my adventures in glass, food, travel, creativity, and all the other things I find interesting and worthwhile. You can view my work and purchase it at my website, www.mzglass.com. Blessings, thanks, and love!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Leafcutters are back…
Moving to Arizona ten years ago was like turning 5 all over again. I grew up in Ohio, and after years of being a biology-nut in the Midwest, I grew pretty familiar with a lot of the local flora and fauna. And then, I moved to the desert Southwest, where the plants had spikes, animals were venomous, and both plants and animals were to be appreciated with a different level of respect than the almost entirely harmless creepy crawlies of Ohio. I had to learn names and biology all over again- and what fun it was, and continues to be! I love living in Arizona- the diversity of insect species is especially astounding. Among my favorites are the leafcutter ants that make a visit to my yard every few weeks in warmer weather. Likely belonging to the Acromyrmex genus (such a good name), these cute ladies pick a plant and form a distinct path between their nest and the plant.
Over the course of a few days, they cut small, portable pieces of vegetation (some not so portable), and bring the plant matter back to the colony. They don't eat it. Rather, the vegetation feeds a fungus colony, which in turn, feeds the ants. Crazy cool biology, huh? A few years ago, the ants picked petals from my blooming orange tree, and left a trail of dropped petals along the top of the wall surrounding my yard. This visit, they picked a common weed in my yard, and I was able to snap a few photos of their handiwork. Not sure why they picked this one; there were many plants of the same variety much closer to their nest in my neighbor's yard. Hope you enjoy the snapshots of these extraordinary creatures as much as I do!