Leafcutter Ant Alate from Mexico

Subject: Winged insect in Batopilas
Location: Batopilas, Chihuahua, Mexico
July 3, 2015 5:32 pm
Recently stumbled across this hellish creature on a plaza in the village of Batopilas, which sits at a lower elevation in the Copper Canyons of Chihuahua, Mexico. The previous night brought heavy rains and the insects had been washed from their nesting points into the streets in large numbers; it gave me the sense of a spawning ritual, as nearly all were dead or dying. I have no background in entomology so I figured I’d petition you guys.–the answer could very well be overwhelmingly obvious, but thanks for taking the time to check it out.
Signature: Nico

Leafcutter Ant Alate
Leafcutter Ant Alate

Dear Nico,
Your speculation about the spawning ritual is 100% accurate.  This is an edible Leafcutter Ant in the genus
Atta, and they swarm with the summer rains.  Only the reproductive caste of Alates is winged, and a mated queen will start a new colony.

1 thought on “Leafcutter Ant Alate from Mexico”

  1. AlexGreat photoshop job on the queen and weorkr thoracic morphology. I will venture a prediction that those photographs might just become a classic illustration in a future textbook on social insects.Another sure fire way of identifying the queen among the weorkrs is also very clear in evidence in your first image of the Atta texana queen. All flying queens have very obvious ocelli those three little single eyes on the forehead’. Those are absent in weorkrs since the ocelli, in most flying insects, are a key component in maintaining flight stability eg. the ocelli aide in determining the horizon while the insects are on the wing. Classic experiments have shown flying insects with their ocelli covered to be unable to fly upright’ in their attempts to fly their inability to determine the horizon results in them literally spiralling out of control either hitting easily avoidable obstacles or just crashing into the ground.


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