[permaculture] Leaf Cutter Ants

antonio scotti antonio.scotti at tiscali.es
Thu Jun 17 07:07:46 EDT 2004

Hello Marsha and al.
just a few beginner's questions.
I think I must have lost the email where the question originated, so I can't
remember what the problem really was.
I assume the ants were eating/cutting  the leaves of some (commercial?)
fruit tree.

What is the effect of mulching on ants? Is it a question of increased
moisture in the soil? If yes, does the increased moisture create an
environment where the ant don't feel so comfortable?
What is (usually) the result of this overall strategy? I guess it is not to
remove ants from the system as you mentioned, but may be one of reducing
damages on trees.
All the best
----- Original Message -----
From: Marsha Hanzi <mhanzi at yahoo.com>
To: <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 1:32 PM
Subject: [permaculture] Leaf Cutter Ants

> 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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