The Leafcutter Ant is also known as the Genus Atta, which are part of the family Formicidae (Ants). Members of this Family are less than 1/16-1″ (1-15 mm) long and are usually a black, brown, or reddish color.
- They have a complex social structure usually consisting of a wingless worker caste composed entirely of sterile females and a reproductive caste made up of winged, fertile males and females. There are some species do not have a worker caste, and some reproductives do not have wings. Ants have a slender “waist,” or pedicel, of 1 or 2 beadlike or scalelike segments between the thorax and abdomen.
- Ants live in colonies in underground tunnels or in galleries in dead wood. From time to time, winged males and females emerge from the nest and perform a brief mating flight. After mating, the males die, and the females lose their wings and return to the ground to start a new colony.
- Workers gather food, maintain and defend the nest, and tend eggs, larvae, and pupae. Most species are predators or scavengers, but a few harvest seeds, visit clusters of aphids to eat their sweet secretions, raise fungus for food in small underground gardens, or eat leaves cut from plants.
- Some species produce eggs, which are eaten by the queen and workers. When disturbed, most ants are capable of “biting” or “stinging” people.