March 15, 2013

Leafcutter Ants Get Shamrocks For St Patrick's Day

Leafcutter ants received tiny candy shamrocks as an enrichment activity at the Saint Louis Zoo's Monsanto Insectarium. Stop by the Insectarium on St. Patrick's Day to see ants on parade!

Female worker ants cut and carry leaves and other organic matter, often several times larger than their body size, high over their heads to the "fungus garden" in their nest. The garden ultimately produces a source of food for the queen and the rest of the colony.

Zookeepers vary the types of matter offered to the ants on a daily basis, which can include fruits and vegetables, plant leaves and flowers. Ants would come across nectar and other sugary items in their environment, and the candy shamrocks are a fun and visual way for our visitors to observe and learn about behaviors of these tiny invertebrates.

The Zoo provides enrichment activities for all animals from the largest to the smallest. These activities encourage the animals to forage and investigate their environment.

For more information on leaf cutter ants, visit
The St Louis Zoo

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