Have you ever seen leafcutter ants at work? On our JBL expeditions the little master builders literally run into us all the time.
But it was only after an indigenous guide had drawn our attention to a special peculiarity, that we finally noticed it too: The ants carry pieces of leaves, which they cut out from whole leaves with their mouths, over long distances to their nest where they breed a fungus which uses these leaf pieces as food. So far, so good. But after every few ants there was a little second ant hanging at this leaf piece. Why?
Our indigenous guide explained that the small ant is checking the quality of the leaf piece. If it is not okay, it could become a danger for the fungi in the nest (e.g. being mouldy or having plant lice) and is discarded. And indeed, at the entrance to the subterranean nest there are endless discarded pieces of leaves lying around. That’s what I call tremendous quality control!