Agrarian Ants

Today, Roche announced funding for over a dozen genomes of organisms associated with the agricultural attine ants and the fungus they cultivate. In honor of the occasion, here's a sampling of a few of the attine species and their gardens.

Acromyrmex sp. nr. crassispinus, Argentina.

The fungus of the texan species Mycetosoritis hartmanni is grown on a substrate of caterpillar frass. Not all the attines are leaf-cutters!

Acromyrmex lundii, Argentina.

Apterostigma auriculatum, Panama.

Atta texana, Texas.

Cyphomyrmex wheeleri, Arizona.

Trachymyrmex pomonae, Arizona.

The parthenogenetic Mycocepurus smithii, Panama.

Atta cephalotes in the fungus garden.

Atta cephalotes, Panama.

Sericomyrmex sp., Panama.

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I'm just curious - how far do you have to travel to get so many varieties of insects? Or, maybe more pertinently, how much variety of insects could a (very) amateur photographer capture within a block or two of their home? A mile?

Thanks! Love the insect pix!

Great shots, Alex. I especially like the Acromyrmex lundii shot, since there´s a lot of them in my city (I´m from Argentina). Nice focusing too... since I read about the Canon MP-E 65mm, I can imagine what a pain it must be to get a sharp focus like that.

Saludos from the south!

How the #@$& did you get the picture of the mold growing on caterpillar frass? Or the one that looks like a stalactite? That ain't no Toys-R-Us ant farm...

Samantha: You'd be surprised how many kinds of insects you can find in your own yard. As a (very) amateur myself, I've photographed over 100 distinct kinds of bugs in my yard, and this isn't even a start - there are hundreds more that I just haven't gotten around to photographing yet.