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Atta mexicana: Tending to the Coral Garden
Photo by Brad Fiero
Website: Pima Community College
The underground fungus cultures of Atta leafcutter ants can grow up to the diameter of a man's head. As can be clearly seen in this remarkable photograph, numerous fissures and cracks allow the colony's tiniest workers to travel throughout its warm interior and harvest special nutritional bodies produced by the fungi called "gongylidia". These ants then distribute their bounty to the rest of the colony (although most of the harvested nutritional bodies are fed to the ant larvae).
This picture was taken in the Sonoran Arthropod Society, Inc.'s laboratory, a private not-for-profit environmental and science education institution located in Pima county, Arizona. SASI's Atta mexicana colony died recently in 2002 after entertaining and educating visitors to the center for over 13 years.
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Web Site Author: A. Sunjian
Site Created 2003.10.11