Brainy little bugs

So often we think that we’re unbeatable when it comes to being smart or intelligent. But insects have, time and again, proved that they are just as clever if not cleverer! This month is dedicated to bugs and their shrewd capabilities.

A leaf cutter ant carrying a leaf across a branch of a tree
Illustration: © Rama Ramesh

Extraordinary fungus farmers

You’ve probably seen pamphlets on how to grow mushrooms at home and make money. Not surprisingly, many of us wonder if it would even work out. But leafcutter ants have no such qualms — they’ve been master fungus farmers for centuries. If you’ve seen a leafcutter ant carrying a piece of leaf you assume that it’s going to be food. But these leaves are taken to a garden space and used as fertilizers on a fungal farm tenderly cared for by the ants. Some ants even lick the growing fungi to spread a type of bacteria that kill other competing fungi, thus acting as a pesticide. If this isn’t advanced farming, what is?

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Rama Ramesh
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Rama Ramesh

Rama Ramesh is a creative writer who has written stories and features for children’s magazines and has co-authored a series of nanotechnology books for kids.