Postcard from Costa Rica


You see movement on the ground beneath you, and when you look closer, there is a parade.  Small ants carry bits of green leaves, several times the size of the ants themselves, above their heads.  They are farmers, used to hard work.  They carry their prizes down the trunks of trees, along vines and branches, and across the earth to their underground chambers.  Here, they create gardens by injecting their leaf clippings with a fungal secretion, which digests the plant matter and turns it into a nutritious mushroom, which they use to feed ant larvae.  The adult ants thrive on leaf sap.  Older adults, who no longer tend to the gardens, collect waste to remove from the garden, putting it in a pile and moving it around to aid decomposition, composting like any true gardener.

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