A Day in the Life of a Leaf Cutter Ant Queen

It is a very long day for the ant princesses. They start with many of their sisters in the nest where their mother lives. They have beautiful long wings. Early in the morning on that special day, the worker ants in the ant nest run out and start to clean the ground around the mouth of the nest. Then, the soldier ants pour out aggressively and run around the nest. None of the workers are doing their usual activity of finding and cutting leaves. Next, some of the winged male ants start to come out of the nests and fly into the sky. Soon after, if the conditions are right, the young princesses with their wet wings emerge from the nest and start to dry their wings in the sun. (This is the time when you can catch the ant princesses.) Then they fly up into the sky to find some of the males. When they have enough material from the males to start their own families, they fly back down to the ground and kick off their wings. They then find a patch of dirt where they can start to dig their own nest. This is only Day One of the amazing story of how these fungus farming ant queens are able to bring everything they need to start and feed a new huge colony of millions of ants.  

Where does it live?:

The Atta laevigata queens leave their mother's nest with a little sample, or tiny bit, of the fungus farm where they were born. They store it in a special part of their esophagus called the infrabuccal pocket. Imagine having a little spot to store things that you put in your mouth instead of it going down into your stomach! They carry that bit of fungus all throughout their long day of meeting males in the sky, avoiding birds and other predators, and digging their own nest.