Bachac leafcutter ants hardworking farmers in Trinidad and Tobago. Sweet TnT Magazine.

Bachac – hardworking leafcutter ant

Commercial farmers and hobbyist gardeners hate bachac with a passion. They have been known to strip entire orchards or kitchen gardens overnight like a swarm of nocturnal locusts, leaving behind just twigs and naked trees in their wake.

Hate them or not, you must admit they are indeed hardworking animals. The bachac can be found from the southern United States all the way down to the tip of South America. In these parts, the bachac is known by the obvious name leafcutter ant or leaf chewing ants. Surprisingly, there are 47 different species of these ants of which only two inhabit Trinidad and Tobago.

Bachac leafcutter ants hardworking farmers in Trinidad and Tobago. Sweet TnT Magazine.

Bachac in Trinidad and Tobago

The two species of bachac found in Trinidad and Tobago are Atta Cephalotes and Acromyrmex Octospinosus. Atta Cephalotes or Forest Bachac has a shiny appearance, is reddish-brown and has long slender legs. These ants have three pairs of spines and a smooth exoskeleton on the upper surface of the thorax.

Acromyrmex Octospinosus vary in colour from brown to almost black and the legs are short compared with those of the previous species. They nests in various habitats including walls, under stones, under fallen tree trunks and in the ground itself. They has four pairs of spines and a rough exoskeleton.

The fungus farmers

One interesting thing you should know about the bachac is they don’t actually eat leaves, instead they use the leaf cuttings as a food for a fungus. This fungus is found nowhere else but in bachac colonies. That is correct, the bachac is actually fungus farmers. Every different species of bachac farm a different species of fungus, however, they are members of the family Lepiotaceae.

Bachac leafcutter ants hardworking farmers in Trinidad and Tobago. Sweet TnT Magazine.

Colony second to human societies

Bachac colonies in terms of complexity is second only to human societies. In a few years, the central mound of their underground nests can grow to more than 30 m (98 ft) across with smaller radiating mounds. This can extend out to a radius of 80 m (260 ft) taking up 30 to 600 m2 (320 to 6,460 sq ft) and containing eight million individuals.

The four-caste bachac colony

There is a clear hierarchy within these colonies. Like all ant colonies, there is a queen and there are four castes being present in established colonies—minims, minors, mediae, and majors.

Minims are the smallest workers and tend to the growing brood or care for the fungus gardens. You generally don’t see them walking on the ground as they rarely leave the colony.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Minors are slightly larger than minims and are present in large numbers. They are the first line of defense and continuously patrol the surrounding terrain. They vigorously attack any enemies that pose a threat.

Mediae are the generalised foragers which cut leaves and bring the leaf fragments back to the nest.

Majors, the largest worker ants, act as soldiers defending the nest from intruders. The largest soldiers, Atta laevigata, participate in other activities such as clearing the main foraging trails of large debris and carrying bulky items back to the nest.

Bachac leafcutter ants hardworking farmers in Trinidad and Tobago. Sweet TnT Magazine.

When next you observe a trail of bachac, remember that they may seem as pests but they are hard working farmers too.

January 2018 

You may also like:

Members of the neighbourhood

Woodpeckers drill and drum in San Juan

Marabunta – your friend or foe?

Caiman basking in my backyard

Iguana in my mango tree in Felicity

Central Trinidad’s carefree crapaud

The great caterpillar invasion

About Sweet TnT

Our global audience visits daily for the positive content about almost any topic. We at Culturama Publishing Company publish useful and entertaining articles, photos and videos in the categories Lifestyle, Places, Food, Health, Education, Tech, Finance, Local Writings and Books. Our content comes from writers in-house and readers all over the world who share experiences, recipes, tips and tricks on home remedies for health, tech, finance and education. We feature new talent and businesses in Trinidad and Tobago in all areas including food, photography, videography, music, art, literature and crafts. Submissions and press releases are welcomed. Send to Contact us about marketing Send us an email at to discuss marketing and advertising needs with Sweet TnT Magazine. Request our media kit to choose the package that suits you.

Check Also

Mobile storage containers in Melbourne

Benefits of large mobile storage containers in Melbourne

Regarding shifting to Melbourne, it’s always a good time to plan your next move. Whether …

Teen activities

Teen activities: 18 fun party hits to ditch the cringe

Teenagers can be tough to please, especially when it comes to parties. Today’s teens are …

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Sweet TnT Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading