Latin Name: Atta cephalotes
Common Name: Leafcutter Ants
Distribution: Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Paraguay
Castes: Minim, Minor, Media, Soldier
Colony form: Monogyne
Appearance of the Queen: 28-34mm Long, dark brown with light brown hair, bulky body
Appearance of the Workers: 3-16mm Long, brown with light brown hair
Difficulty rating (1 Easy – 3 Expert): 3 (Fine maintenance of temperature & humidity required, colonies grow into their millions)
Temperature: Nest (23°C – 27°C), Arena (21°C – 28°C)
Humidity: Nest (80% – 99%), Arena (40% – 70%), Waste (20% – 50%)
Nutrition: Secretions from the fungus (Leucoagaricus gongylophorus)
Recommended housing: HT GroPods™, GroPods™, GroCubes™
Atta cephalotes is a fantastic species to keep, colonies grow very large and can be amazing to observe. This species is usually recommended only for large commercial setups, however hobbyists can still keep this species by dedicating a large space for the colony. Atta species grow relatively fast and colonies can reach 5 million individuals. Atta species cultivate a special type of fungus, sharing a symbiotic relationship, where neither can exist without the other. The fungus produces fruiting bodies as food for the ants to consume and the ants provide the leaf matter for the fungus to grow and proliferate.
Atta species are quite sensitive in the early stages and care must be taken to provide accurate environmental conditions. You must remember that you are caring for both the ants and the fungus, with the fungus requiring more consistent conditions.