Advertisement

Observation of leaf-cutting ants foraging on wild mushrooms

Abstract

This study reports on the observation of an unusual behavior in leaf-cutting ants: foraging on wild mushrooms. A colony of Acromyrmex lundi in Buenos Aires (Argentina) was observed intensively harvesting basidiomes (mushroom fructifications) of wild Agrocybe fungus developing on a tree bark. Another colony maintained for a month in laboratory conditions also accepted Agrocybe mushroom and incorporated the cut bits into the fungus garden in the same way as they do with leaves. We recorded these events confident that they open a new perspective on the study of the feeding habits of leaf-cutting ants as well as on the relationship between their fungus garden and other organisms.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Bass M. and Cherrett J.M. 1995. The role of leaf-cutting ant workers (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in fungus garden maintenance. Ecol. Entomol. 19: 215-220

  2. Chang S.T. 1991. Cultivated mushrooms. In: Handbook of Applied Mycology III (Arora D.K., Mukerji K.G. and Elmer H.M., Eds), Marcel Dekker inc. New York. pp 221-240

  3. Herz H., Hölldobler B. and Roces F. 2008. Delayed rejection in a leaf-cutting ant after foraging on plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus. Behav. Ecol. 19: 575-582

  4. Holley J.A. 2005. Notes from Underground: Page 25. http://www.notesfromunderground.org/alwaysneeded/photos/holley/holleypictures.html

  5. Kermarrec A., Febvay G. and Decharme M. 1986. Protection of leaf cutting ants from biohazards: Is there a future for microbiological control? In: Fire Ants and Leaf-cutting Ants: Biology and Management (Lofgren S. and Vander Meer R.K., Eds). Westview Press, Boulder and London. pp 339-355

  6. Martin M.M. and Weber N.A. 1969. The cellulose-utilizing capability of the fungus cultured by the Attine ant Atta colombica tonsipes. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 62: 1386-1387

  7. Mehdiabadi N.J. and Schultz T.R. 2010. Natural history and phylogeny of the fungus-farming ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae: Attini). Myrmecol. News 13: 37-55

  8. Nobles M.K. 1948. Studies in forest pathology VI. Identification of cultures of wood rotting fungi. Can. J. Res. 26: 281-431

  9. Quinlan R.J. and Cherrett J.M. 1979. The role of the fungus in the diet of the leaf-cutting ant Atta cephalotes (L.). Ecol. Entomol. 4: 151-160

  10. Sarker N.C., Shaheen M., Amin S.M.R. and Khan A.S. 2008. Domestication and cultivation of Agrocybe aegerita on straw and sawdust substrate. Bangladesh J. Mushroom 2: 73-79

  11. Saverschek N., Herz H., Wagner M. and Roces F. 2010. Avoiding plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus: learning and long-term memory in leaf-cutting ants. Anim. Behav. 79: 689-698

  12. Uhart M. 2007. Diversidad de especies del género Agrocybe (Basidiomycetes, Agaricales) en la República Argentina. Estudios de compatibilidad sexual y cultivo intensivo de Agrocybe cylindrica de Europa, América y Asia. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires. Thesis

  13. Weber N.A. 1972. Gardening Ants, the Attines. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia

  14. Wild A. 2010. Myrmecos: http://myrmecos.net/2010/08/05/do-attine-ants-forage-for-fungi

  15. Witte V. and Maschwitz U. 2008. Mushroom harvesting ants in the tropical rain forest. Naturwissenschaften 95: 1049-1054

  16. Zhanxi L. and Zhanhua L. 2001. Juncao Technology. China Agricultural Scientech press, Beijing

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Prof. B. Hölldobler for his advice and suggestions. This work was supported by the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion (PICT 01319) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research from Argentina.

Author information

Correspondence to R. Josens.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Video 1 (2′58″) (WMV 22280 kb)

Video 2 (3′27″). (WMV 39459 kb)

Video 1 (2′58″) (WMV 22280 kb)

Video 2 (3′27″). (WMV 39459 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lechner, B.E., Josens, R. Observation of leaf-cutting ants foraging on wild mushrooms. Insect. Soc. 59, 285–288 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-012-0219-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Leaf-cutting ants
  • Foraging
  • Fungi
  • Acromyrmex
  • Wild mushrooms