| The leaf cutter ant, also know as the parasol ant, is one of a
munber of social insects. Like bees, wasps, termites, and some aphids,
the leaf cutter ant is part of a colony that rely on group integration
and a division of labor.
|Leaf cutter ants are a great example of mutualism. Mutualism is
a type of symbiotic relationship in which both partners benefit from
the relationship. Leaf cutter ants cut various types of foliage into
pieces. They then carry these cut leaves back to their colony where
they grind up the plant matter. They then inoculate the leaves with a
fungus. The harvested fungus is then used as a food source for the ant
colony. Apart from humans, leaf cutter ants are the only species that
is able to make their own food. To protect these fungus gardens, the
leaf cutter ants rely on a type of bacteria, which lives on thier skin,
to combat invading fungi pests. The relationship between the leaf
cutter ant, fungus, and bacteria is one of the most amazing examples of
mutualism in nature.