National Geographic: Rain Forest

Synopsis:
Year:
1983
18 Views


For some, the problem may be

too much help

for others, just a sudden puff of wind.

But they're the exceptions.

For most ants,

it's only the first step

in the long trek back to the nest,

which may be 100 yards or more away.

They follow a chemical trail

laid down by the workers

that first scouted this tree,

so they seldom go astray.

The leaf fragments that

they carry are not for eating.

Instead, they are employed

by the ants

in a remarkable system of farming.

The leaves are used to

culture the fungus

that is the only food source

for the ants and their brood.

Here in the underground garden,

the leaves are cut into much

smaller pieces and carefully cleaned

probably to remove any spores

that might contaminate

the pure culture.

The leaf edges are chewed

to a wet pulp,

and a clear droplet of body fluid

is added to create

the perfect foundation

for the precious fungus

that sustains the colony.

This is not the work

of leaf-cutter ants.

The insects that create these

patterns

are seldom seen during the day.

In daylight, insects are

more vulnerable to predators,

so many feed only at night,

leaving their mark everywhere

in the understory of the forest.

But some insects are active by day,

and this morpho butterfly is

a brilliant target for a jacamar.

Before it can be swallowed,

the wings must be removed.

Great agility and keen eyesight

make this anole

lizard a formidable predator

on small insects.

Nearby, a female is shedding.

Her old skin is too nutritious

to be wasted;

she eats every bit of it.

The female is in his territory

and by staying,

she shows that she is willing

to be courted.

He displays to her by flashing

his brilliant dewlap.

A performance like this is both

a signal to the female

and proclaims his territory.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "National Geographic: Rain Forest" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 19 Jan. 2021. <https://www.scripts.com/script/national_geographic:_rain_forest_14558>.

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