Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Why do Leafcutter Ants cut leaves and carry them away?

Watch more with these video collections:

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.”

cutting leaves

“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.”

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

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Why do citrus psyllids bribe ants with strings of candy poop?

Rion Nakaya

Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving

Rion Nakaya

What makes fire ants “pave roads” with particles?

Rion Nakaya

The Sticky Feet of Ants & Cockroaches – Cambridge Ideas

Rion Nakaya

The Fire Palace: Fire ants move into a bin of fresh soil

Rion Nakaya

Leafcutter Ants carry messages in the Amazon Rainforest

Rion Nakaya

How do leafcutter ants cut leaves off of trees?

Rion Nakaya

How can weaver ants protect an entire orchard?

Rion Nakaya

Honeypot ants and their “golden water balloons” of nutrients

Rion Nakaya