I’m a city person at heart, but every now and then I like to get far away from the chaos and soak in some nature. On the two trips I’ve taken to Costa Rica, I’ve found it ideal for such a getaway. It’s quite a contrast from my usual environment—everything from the food to the climate is different, not to mention the language, driving habits, and so on. But we adapt rapidly, as humans tend to do. After a few days, we become accustomed to the heat and, to a lesser extent, the humidity. We get used to seeing the occasional frog or lizard in the shower. The sights, sounds, and smells which were so foreign just a week earlier begin to seem commonplace. “Honey, look! Up in the tree!” one of us will say. What, another sloth, a family of monkeys, a toucan? Ho hum. Been there, done that. The novelty of such sightings wears off much too quickly.
The Ants Go Marching One by One, Hurrah, Hurrah
Such was the case with leaf cutter ants. At first you think it’s an optical illusion. You’ll glance at the ground and detect a line of movement, just a rustle. You look at a bare strip in the grass and think: The leaves can’t possibly be marching across the ground. You try to figure out what you’re seeing, whether it’s moving plants or plant-shaped bugs of some kind. On closer inspection—much closer—you see tiny ants, almost blending into the soil, carrying comparatively huge slices of leaves in a long column. Ah: leaf cutter ants. Yes, I think I read about them somewhere. They climb trees, slice up the leaves, and carry them off to their nests. Got it. Once you’ve figured out what it is, it doesn’t seem especially remarkable. [Article Continues…]