樵蚁

by xw

由 xw » 05/16/12
读蚁笔记:Parasol ants, Leaf-cutter ants

最近借读买了很不少蚂蚁的书,梅特林克买了英文版。读起来一本比一本精彩,我买
的陈书Ants,现代蚂蚁学开门祖WM Wheeler写的,收书者Charles Laun特别附了一
本甲壳虫的书,似有他乡遇知之感。都印刷精美,只是时日有些陈旧,只作几块钱。
况且许多旧时的书原价也就几块钱而已。我读的第一本蚂蚁的书就是WM Wheeler于
德美两脉三四传的弟子Bert Hölldobler&Edward O. Wilson合著的Leaf-cutter Ants
,说是选自大作Metaorganism书中一章并加拓而成。书中有巴西割叶蚁窝穴巨大的
水泥原制模型,规模大得惊人。


难怪有一种德克萨斯的割叶蚁完有Town Ants之名!

书中也附有割叶蚁曾经搬运的各类杂什,组合成Mosaic似的扉页。割叶蚁,我早有
听闻,但是提不起兴趣。蚂蚁那稀疏平常之物,就是亚马逊又有什么惊奇。及观上
规模以及该蚁在亚马逊的危害,尤其是对农作物的危害后,才警醒。此蚁在美洲大
陆有广泛分布,名称听上去不可怕,至少比兵蚁,征奴掳掠一类名称比良善一些。
才读一本美韩蚁学家叫Jae Choe写的Secret Lives of Ants,里面提到阳伞蚁之名
,Parasol,简直成了一幅浪漫主义形象。况且,蚁类社会基本上都是雌蚁,所谓
All Female Society!


我这回在亚马逊,最后一日夜探雨林,就遇到一队割叶蚁。导游指着平行的两队说,
搬运的叶片上还有更小的蚁,那是清理割叶以防别的病菌感染的。割叶蚁把叶子运
回去养制真菌,并食用菌苞子。地下暗道中有专门的菌室,就是农业的发起了,据
说五千万年前就开始了。特别的蚁类养植特别的菌类,共同发生发育。


嗯,贴子照片放多了,有点按图说话的意思,以后尽量避免。关于割叶蚁(主要包括
两属Atta, Acromyrmex中四十七种)其中分工导致的身材大小有别,一般称Caste,
就象印度的种姓社会?

Next to humans, leafcutter ants form the largest and most complex animal
societies on Earth. In a few years, the central mound of their underground
nests can grow to more than 30 metres (98 ft) across, with smaller, radiating
mounds extending out to a radius of 80 metres (260 ft), taking up 30 to 600
square metres (320 to 6,500 sq ft) and containing eight million individuals.

割叶蚁利用微生物所产生的抗生素对付“农场”中的杂菌,它们比人类掌握青霉素更
早使用抗生素。切叶蚁是终极食草动物。每年消耗掉当地叶子产量的12%-17%。
高效的废物处理机制,专职的废物处理员和专业处理手段,成功阻止有害病菌和疾
病在底下城市传播。

基于杰出的建筑才能,切叶蚁的巢穴可以深达8米,但是空气从巢穴表层到中心都
是流通的。极多种类的分工。不同工蚁的头宽可以相差8倍,身体干重可以相差200
倍。一个庞大的切叶蚁群体能够达到800万成员。大型兵蚁强健到可以切割皮革。
切叶蚁是效率的典范,不同类型的蚂蚁承担不同的工作。

这么大的社会,这么长的历史,等级制很明显,蚁民们也乐意:-?

Colony hierarchy

In a mature leaf-cutter colony, ants are divided into castes, based mostly
on size, that perform different functions. Acromyrmex and Atta exhibit a high
degree of biological polymorphism, four castes being present in established
colonies - minims, minors, mediae and majors. Majors are also known as
soldiers or dinergates. Atta ants are more polymorphic than Acromyrmex,
meaning there is comparatively less difference in size from the smallest to
largest types of Acromymex.


  1. Minims are the smallest workers, and tend to the growing brood or
  2. care for the fungus gardens. Head width is less than 1 mm.
  3. Minors are slightly larger than minima workers, and are present in
  4. large numbers in and around foraging columns. These ants are the first
    line of defense and continuously patrol the surrounding terrain and
    vigorously attack any enemies that threaten the foraging lines. Head
    width is around 1.8-2.2 mm.
  5. Mediae are the generalized foragers, which cut leaves and bring the
  6. leaf fragments back to the nest.
  7. Majors, the largest worker ants, act as soldiers, defending the nest
  8. from intruders, although recent evidence indicates majors participate in
    other activities, such as clearing the main foraging trails of large debris
    and carrying bulky items back to the nest. The largest soldiers (Atta
    laevigata
    ) may have total body lengths up to 16 mm and head widths
    of 7 mm.

象许多分工发达的社会,A. cephalotes工蚁具体多形体,与Caste对应:

Seven Leafcutter ant workers of various castes (left) and two Queens (right)

这样说就不浪漫了,明明是打阳伞的姑娘家,一说到社会,如临峭壁。社会本身即
是无情的,我读到育蚁喂小蚁幼虫,多给蛋白质的成形就大,只喂糖与碳水化合物
的形体会小。喂成长翅膀的雄雌蚁婚飞(Nuptial flight)也是蚁社会的一种奢侈状
态,一般最初不具,社会未期也没了底气。至于雄雌决定在于蚁后,蚁卵受不受精
就是,受精的皆雌。但雌体能否成熟,雌体育成什么角色的成熟个体,在社会担任
什么重任,有一部分就在于幼童喂食成份中。还真有点中国古人说的肉食者谋之,
又要说了,现代欧美人原以食肉多,故而形体精力比东亚植食、大米小麦碳水化合
物并常年饥荒养育出来的人的面象在世界一体化的地球村是否有类似的角色分派?
这个就不浪漫了,还是梁祝双飞,虽然越剧都是女角,虽然蝴蝶只有短暂的生命,
光彩一暂来得浪漫:

Parasol ants, Carry flower Petals as Pink Parasols (Mark Moffett)

割叶蚁以种蘑菇为生,早在蚁后婚飞(Neptial flight)时就将娘家的菌种藏在自己口
中凹陷处,之后,经过自己开创家园,一定规模后开始由工蚁开辟香菇园地。
2013-09-05 21:34:04

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