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Did you know that some ants grow their own food, just like farmers? Or that other ants build highways that can be seen from the air? Or that large ant colonies go to war with each other? Get a look at life from an ant’s point of view with large-format photographs of ants going about their daily business, a cast of an underground ant city, and a live ant colony.

1- Army ants (Eciton burchellii) in Panamá have attacked another ant colony and stashed the stolen larvae in the leaf litter until they can be transported to the new nest, later in the evening for dinner.



























2- Ants normally work tirelessly to benefit their own colony, but some species will capture and trick others into identifying with the wrong colony. These reddish Amazon ants (Polyergus breviceps) would starve to death even with food in front of them, if their “slaves” (Formica argentea) did not feed them


























3- Leafcutter ants, such as these Atta cephalotes, collect leaves and vegetation not to eat, but to make compost for their crops of edible fungus



























4- Leafcutter ants, such as these Atta vollenweideri, and the fungi they grow for food are inseparable. The ant-domesticated fungus is no longer capable of growing in the wild, and must be nurtured by leafcutters to survive.


























5- These tiny yellow aphids produce a complete diet for the herdsmen ants (Dolichoderus cuspidatus), who harvest the aphids’ honeydew by tapping them whenever they want a drop of the sweet substance. These aphids are only found with their ants, which offer them protection and food.


























6- Workers from small colonies usually work alone, but larger prey requires a joint effort. These two (Daceton sp.) have wrung all the juice out of the caterpillar, attempting to carry it back to the nest while pulling in different directions.


























7- Ready to catch its prey, the jaws of an Odontomachus ant open 180 degrees. Long hairs, tickled by the presence of the grasshopper, will trigger the jaws to slam forward in the fastest muscular-driven action in any animal.


























8- These ants grow yeast gardens for food. They use insect droppings to provide the nutrients the yeast needs to grow.






















9- To keep intruders out, this door-maker ant (Stenamma alas) has created a small ball of mud that fits perfectly over the entrance of the nest. She keeps the door nearby and closes it quickly when predators appear.























10- The distinctive mound entrance of this Pheidole sp. nest was formed from underground soil excavated and deposited by worker ants.






















11- Seen from a low-flying airplane, the trails that radiate from these leafcutter ant (Atta vollenweideri) nests resemble maps of human cities and highways. The 6-inch-wide ground-surface "highways" radiate hundreds of feet from the nest, which may be circled by underground "beltways.






















12- Carpenter Ant nest in the curled tendril of a pitcher plant.






















13- Biting into her enemy is the last thing this army ant soldier (Eciton hamatum) will ever do — the mandibles cannot be pulled out without killing the soldier.






















14- When two army ant raids collide, such as these Eciton hamatum and Eciton burchellii, the ants only harass each other. With their ferocious battle skills, the death rate would be astronomical if they went in for the kill.






















15- Tiny marauder workers (Pheidologeton diversus) ride to the front lines of a raid on larger marauder ants. They hitch a ride because it’s more economical to ride than to walk. Being bussed by large ants saves the entire colony energy. Photo © Mark W. Moffett/Minden Pictures






















16- This sluggish Basiceros conjugans worker ant has tiny spoon-shaped hairs on her body that collect dirt and mud, camouflaging her as she hunts snails in the leaf litter.






















17- A weaver ant worker (Oecophylla smaragdina) in Cambodia protects a herd of fat, red scale insects. The workers “milk” these “cattle” for their high-carb honeydew, which gives them the energy they need to fuel attacks on enemies and large prey.

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