The Kid Should See This

Why do Leafcutter Ants cut leaves and carry them away?

Where are the Leafcutter Ants carrying all those leaves to? They do drink the leaf sap, but they don’t eat them, so what are the leaves for? File under composting and farming: It’s all about growing a highly nutritious fungus in their nests.

Observe leafcutter ants in all of their 4K excellence in this episode of Deep Look from KQED and PBS Digital Studios. Plus a few facts:

How old are ants? To give you an idea, while humans have farmed for around 12,000 years, ants have been doing it for 60 million.

How many ants are there in the world? If you bundled together all the ants in the world, there would be more of them than people – they’re the dominant biomass, says Brian Fisher, chair of the Department of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco. This is because all 30,000 species of ants are social. They have many ways of making a living.

How strong are ants? Leafcutter ants haul leaf pieces through fields or forests to their underground nests. For a human, this feat would be the equivalent of carrying more than 600 pounds between our teeth.

Why are ants important to the soil? The activity of ants aerates the soil, making it easier for water and oxygen to get through. They also contribute organic matter.

Watch more from Deep Look, including Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of vibrantly-colored coral camouflage, The Amazing Life of Sand, and Banana Slugs and Secret of the Slime.

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