[permaculture] Leaf Cutter Ants

Marsha Hanzi mhanzi at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 15 07:32:55 EDT 2004

Leaf cutter ants  have a role to play in an ecosystem.
 They appear in the transition from a rather poor
grass-shrub system to the beginnings of a forest. 
Their immense compost heaps are very fertile, and the
bed for the trees of the future.

They are our allies and not our enemies, and deserve
to be treated as such.  Making war on them is no use-
we all know who will win!

If you supplant their function by working with immense
quantities of organic material, they will disappear
from the system in about a year's time.

If cooperation is one of the pillars of Permaculture,
we need to apply it to our relationwhip with Nature.

So, to recap-  in the case of undesirable leafcutter
action, you should-
1. Verify if you planted the wrong thing at the wrong
time (i.e. trees which belong to a more evolved system
 in an early stage of succession)Ants are janitors,
removing weak plants from the system.
2. Increase biodiversity
3. Go really heavy on mulching.

I usually tell our farmers that if they do these three
things and still have ant problems after one year, I
myself will jump into their bonfires on St. Johns feast!

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