Acromyrmex versicolor - Desert Leaf-Cutter Ant
Arizona, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2006

Young fungus-growing ant queens such as this Acromyrmex leave the established fungus gardens of their parent colonies to start new nests.  These queens carry with them a pellet of fungal inoculum in a small pouch in their mouthparts, and upon excavating a new nest they expel and fertilize the pellet, shown here with two freshly-laid ant eggs.

USA AZ Pima Co.: Tucson Mountains 
32º15.817'N 111º03.762'W 750m. 8.vii.2006.
Mating swarm along side of road. 
#AW2840, voucher specimens deposited at ALWC.

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 20D, using a Canon MPE 65mm 1-5x macro lens.