Different leaves every day v's keep it the same!

What you feed, where you get it from, basically we will build up a comrehensive list of suitable plants to feed Leaf Cutters. Also in temperate countries, what do you feed them in the Winter?
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Acromyrmexbob
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Different leaves every day v's keep it the same!

Post by Acromyrmexbob » Sun Sep 01, 2019 7:44 pm

In temperate countries there are a wide variety of different leaves to choose from to give your ants something new to chew on daily. I have always advocated to clients when setting up a public display that it is essential to vary the offerings in order to keep the ants enthusiastically foraging and putting on a great show for the public. The logic is that if the colony in the wild hit the same plant until it was dead and then moved to the next, after a couple of years there would be nothing within walking distance fro them to cut. This would mean either relocation or death. So they practice rotation and forage in different directions each day until the plants they had hammered were regrown.
However last winter I changed to privet for 2 months in a row, partly through laziness and partly because this was the only suitable easily obtainable plant. And guess what. They took it!
So let me amend my previous opinion. Leaf cutters do better on a variety of leaves. They certainly forage with renewed energy when they are given a different suitable species to cut. Their interest in the same leaf, day after day, becomes 'lazy'. But if forced, they will take a repetitive diet and not deteriorate. So I would say that the ideal offerings of different types of leaves can be restricted to summer and there may be no real harm done if they are given no choice in winter. There is a famous lab in Copenhagen, my son is working there just now, they have a very large collection of leaf cutters. All these colonies ever get is bramble leaves and apple, day about. And they do fine. So some comfort for those with a whacking great privet bush in their garden and no great desire to go hunting for alternatives!

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