Leafcutter ants on corn

Leafcutter ants attacking corn | western Buenos Aires Prov., Argentina

North American corn farmers certainly have their share of insect pests to worry about. Between corn borer, earworm, armyworm, and rootworm, there isn’t much of the plant that isn’t vulnerable to attack by at least one of these insects. Argentina corn farmers have all this and more—have you ever seen ants attacking corn? I took these photographs yesterday in a corn field in western Buenos Aires Province showing leafcutter ants dining on the developing kernels of late-planted corn. Okay, “dining” may not be the proper word, as they are not actually eating the kernels, but rather harvesting them to bring them back to their “hormiguera” (ant nest) for cultivation of the fungi on which they feed. The four pairs of spines on the pro-mesonotum and narrow distal antennal segments suggest this is a species of Acromyrmex, three species of which are mentioned as pests of corn in Argentina (A. lundii, A. striatus, and A. lobicornis). Of these, the individuals in these photos seem to best match AntWeb’s photos of Acromyrmex lundii, but that is just my guess.

Acromyrmex sp. poss. lundii?

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
This entry was posted in Formicidae, Hymenoptera and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Leafcutter ants on corn

  1. tcornelisse says:

    How neat! Well…not for the farmers…but great shots. Will you be traveling to Patagonia by any chance? I saw some fascinating beetles when I was there. Either way, I look forward to your Argentine photos.

  2. Martha says:

    Ick but in a good way.

  3. James C. Trager says:

    Ants – Awesome!🙂
    Haven’t checked out the ID yet, but you’re probably right.

Commentaria

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s