Few Cyphomyrmex species are as decorated with sleek little ridges as the Central American Cyphomyrmex costatus. The function of the ridges is unknown, but might help to increase the rigidity of the ants' integument.
Worker fungus-growing ants in their edible galleries.
Sycamore Canyon, Arizona, USA
Most species of the cryptic fungus-growing ant genus Cyphomyrmex are difficult to identify, but the smooth, rounded back of C. laevigatus is instantly recognizable. Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata, Peru.
A worker of the taxonomically ambiguus Cyphomyrmex minutus fungus growing ant stands atop developing larvae. Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata, Peru.
A worker ant delicately moves eggs through a frass/yeast garden typical of Cyphomyrmex in the rimosus species group. Refugio Amazonas, Tambopata, Peru.
An ambitious Cyphomyrmex forager carries a piece of insect frass back to the nest. These ants feed exclusively on a fungus that grows on the bits of detritus they gather.
Some species of Cyphomyrmex fungus-growing ants are unusual in cultivating their fungus in yeast form. Rather than spongy white mycelia, the gardens of these ants are full of bite-sized white yeast globules.
Cyphomyrmex (rimosus group sp.)
A fungus-growing ant stands guard over the garden. Agriculture in this species involves growing yeast on fresh caterpillar droppings, an abundant resource in any humid tropical forest. La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica.
Some Cyphomyrmex species cultivate their fungus as a yeast, visible here as little white globules.
A Cyphomyrmex (rimosus-group sp.) worker tends to yeast globules in the fungus garden.
Cyphomyrmex (rimosus-group sp.) tends to the fungus garden.
Cyphomyrmex rimosus carrying caterpillar frass back to the nest where it will be fed to the colony's fungus garden.
Gainesville, Florida, USA
Portrait of a small fungus-farming ant. Brackenridge Field Lab, Austin, Texas, USA.
Cyphomyrmex rimosus garden
Some Cyphomyrmex grow their edible fungus in yeast form, rather than the more common hyphal sponge. Here, golden clumps of yeast adorn caterpillar droppings the ants have collected. Brackenridge Field Lab, Texas, USA.
A worker ant in the fungus garden. Brackenridge Field Lab, Austin, Texas, USA.
Ant agricultureCyphomyrmexAttiniAttine antsfungus growingMyrmicinae