Subject: a recording of the voice of a leafcutter ant
Location: Eagle Pass, TX
September 18, 2016 1:27 pm
Years ago I caught a very large leafcutter soldier ant, and temporarily put her inside a tiny transparent plastic box for an SD card. The box was barely big enough for the enormous ant, so small that if you pressed your finger down on the box, it would cause discomfort to the ant. I noticed what seemed to be noise coming from the ant when it experienced this discomfort, so I got a digital microphone and set it over the edge of the SD card box (so that the stronger edge would support its weight and not press on the ant), then squeezed the ant a little bit with my finger, just enough to get a reaction (I am sorry, but I did it for science, the ant was not harmed at all but it did go through an annoying time for a few seconds). I converted the recording to an mp3, which you can download below. I thought you might be interested in hearing this. I had no idea ants had a voice!
Thanks for sending in both your excellent images of a Texas Leaf Cutting Ant or Leafcutter Ant, Atta texana, as well as your marvelous sound recording. According to BugGuide: “In Texas these ants damage weeds, grasses, plum and peach trees, blackberry bushes and many other fruit, nut and ornamental plants as well as several cereal and forage crops. The ants do not eat the leaf fragments they collect, but take them into their underground nest where they use the material to raise a fungus garden. As the fungus grows, certain parts of it are eaten by the ants and fed to the larvae. This fungus is their only known source of food. Leaf cutting ants will attack pine trees but ordinarily they do little damage when other green plants are available. During the winter when green plant material is scarce, seedling pines are frequently damaged in parts of east Texas and west central Louisiana. Where ants are abundant, it is almost impossible to establish natural pine reproduction. In such sites, young pine seedlings often are destroyed within a few days unless the ants are controlled before planting.”
Thank you, Mr. Marlos! I am happy to contribute the images and audio to your website. J