The Ants - Chapter 17 The Fungus Growers Summary & Analysis

Bert Hölldobler
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Chapter 17 The Fungus Growers Summary

This chapter continues the natural history approach started in Chapter 16, and deals exclusively with fungus-growing ants. "Members of the myrmicine tribe Attini ... [have] ... the sophisticated habit of culturing and eating fungi" (p. 596). Many species within this enormously successful group gather pieces of leaves and flowers to nourish their fungus gardens. The fungus itself subsequently serves as the food for the colony.

An amusing anecdote by V. Wofgang von Hagen, illustrating the amazing leafcutting ability of the fungus-growing ants, is related. In the story, a garden is planted and grows to near maturity only to be stripped bare overnight once discovered by a nest of leafcutter ants. The native populace is greatly amused at the wasted effort expended in the production of the garden, which they correctly predicted would never produce usable crop.

The fungus culturing process used...

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This section contains 287 words
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