Sonoran Desert Leafcutter Ants

I noticed reddish ants in my yard that weren’t fire ants; I noticed them because recently I came home from work and saw that in my garden the green tops of my scallions had been chopped off. Nearby I saw a trail of ants carrying bits of plant matter.

I don’t have any proof that the ants ate my onions; from what I’ve read, it seems more likely that they’d be interested in my creosote and palo verde blossoms. Nothing else in my garden has been eaten; so, I’ve left the ants alone. These ants build fungus gardens underground. I’d like for them to be able to build away, just not using my vegetables.

Taking a photo of any ant isn’t very easy; here’s my best shot this morning:

I know. I can hardly see it myself.

A much better photo of this species of ant, by a more talented photographer, can be found here. The link is the courtesy of my brother Frank, who is doing research on tropical leafcutter ants and their fungus gardens for his PhD.

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