The attine fungus-growing ants are famous as agriculturalists, cultivating underground gardens. The highly specialized leafcutter ants provide their fungus with living vegetation, while other lineages prefer caterpillar frass or other vegetative debris. Recently in southern Illinois I observed Trachymyrmex workers carving sections from a mushroom:
Genetic evidence suggests that occasionally fungus-growing ants swap cultivars from one lineage to another. Once- in Apterostigma– they even adopted a rather distantly related fungus. Might ants foraging on fungal fruiting bodies be the mechanism for new species to enter the system? Food for thought.
Canon EOS 7D
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec
diffused overhead flash