Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 19–24 | Cite as

The Leaf-Cutting ant Atta Sexdens rubropilosa, FOREL, 1908 Prefers Drier Chambers for Garbage Disposal

  • Pedro Leite Ribeiro
  • Carlos A. Navas

Leave cutting ants rely on a fungus garden as their main food supply. This garden produces debris that must be disposed by workers, as it may favor the contamination of the fungus. We assumed that the growth of undesired microorganisms on garbage would increase with humidity, therefore drier areas should be more suitable for garbage disposal. Accordingly, we tested the hypothesis that leave-cutting ants Atta sexdens rubropilosa choose drier chambers for garbage disposal. We found that 30 out of 30 sub-colonies tested for hygropreference chose drier chambers for garbage disposal when offered a choice between dry (RH=25±5% SD) and humid (RH=95±5% SD) chambers.


Atta; leaf-cutting ants humidity microclimate garbage 



Financial support was offered by FAPESP- (The state of São Paulo Science Foundation, 03-01577-8). Thanks are due to Adam G. Hart for his helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Fisiologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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