Leafcutting Ants

Category: Ants

Scientific Name: Atta spp.


Color: Body is rust brown to dark brown, with pale legs
Size: Body is about 1.5 to 12 mm long
Region: Found throughout the US


Important Considerations:

  • Leafcutting ants are of concern in urban areas because they can quickly remove leaves, flowers, and things from trees
  • Female swarmers can cause issues when they swarm onto lights because when they fall they may sting people if they land on them
  • They get their name because of their ability to cut leaves up into small pieces
  • These ants only build their nests in the soil, usually in loamy soils
  • The nests are often on slopes that have Western or Southern exposure, and can be near creeks or rivers
  • Nests may have up to a million individual ants, but only have 1 queen that is long-lived
  • Some colonies may occupy a nesting area for 60-70 years
  • These ants normally swarm during the months of April to June, before dawn

Where to Find Them on Your Property?

You will find Leafcutting ants in well-drained soils, and occasionally near creeks and rivers. They will be on or around trees, shrubs, flowers, etc. Sometimes they may find food elsewhere such as corn, flour, rice, or wheat, and carry it back to their habitat. They can forage up to 600 feet away from their nest. They mostly forage when it’s cooler, and if they enter your structure they will quickly exit.