Leafcutter ants: An ally against glossy privet

I have known for some time that leafcutter ants will attack glossy privet. I had even noticed that they seem to do so preferentially. In Austin's Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, a couple of large colonies seem to be eating nothing else.

I had not realized that leafcutter ants could kill ligustrums. They certainly strip the leaves, but they don't seem to be able to keep up with the plant's growth.

All around this huge leafcutter ant mound we can find dead ligustrums. Volunteers working with me have girdled many in the area—but not these. We meant to get to these glossy privets eventually, but the leafcutters beat us to it.

Perhaps if left to their own devices these ants would never have killed the ligustrums. Perhaps it is that we removed so many seedlings, saplings, and mature trees that the ants overwhelmed whatever remained behind. But they also seem not to have cultivated a taste for other plants in the area.

If only I could convince them to try Chinese pistache, chinaberry, and giant reed…

Publicado el martes, 18 de junio de 2019 a las 02:48 MAÑANA por baldeagle baldeagle


Fotos / Sonidos


Hormiga Arriera Tejana (Atta texana)




Marzo 10, 2018 a las 12:34 PM CST


The largest mound is an ovate shape 24 feet long and 16 feet wide. I’d estimate that it’s 2.5 to 3 feet high. There are dozens of outlying mounds of various sizes. At least 10 mature ligustrums (glossy privet) have been killed by this colony, perhaps because we have uprooted or girdled hundreds of others in the one-acre site. The photo pointed skyward shows the canopy of one of these glossy privets and the Ashe junipers in the area. Note that there is not one leaf on the glossy privet. Also, the trunks show no green when scratched.


Very interesting. We may not have ...or want... this species in NZ, but will keep an eye out for herbivory on the privets and see what turns up

Publicado por kaipatiki_naturew... hace alrededor de 4 años

Frankly, I’m surprised that these colonies seem to be eating nothing else. Leafcutter ants are widely known to require two attributes of their fodder:

It must be leafy.
It must be green.

I’m kidding a bit, but I’ve never seen this degree of preference before. Every other time I’ve seen them, the only preference they’ve shown was for tender growth over older growth—but even that preference wasn’t all that strong.

So, no, you don’t want them in New Zealand. Not unless desertification is your goal. 😏

Publicado por baldeagle hace alrededor de 4 años

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