''Atta mexicana'' is a species of leaf-cutter ant, a New World ant of the subfamily Myrmicinae of the genus ''Atta''. This species is from one of the two genera of advanced attines (fungus-growing ants) within the tribe Attini.


The queen is approximately 30 mm long, and dark brown. Workers are dark brown, with thorns. Soldiers grow up to 18 mm, and are well-fortified. The ants cut leaves and grow a basidiomycete fungus called ''Leucoagaricus gongylophoru''s (Agaricaceae) with them. Oleic acid is one of their undertaking triggers.


''A. mexicana'' is found in Mexico (where is commonly called hormiga chicatana, hormiga podadora de hoja/''desert ant'' and mochomo), and crosses into Arizona, United States. This species is highly adaptive, and thrives in such urban areas as Puerto Vallarta. Densities of A. mexicana nests are very high in numerous areas, including the resort community of Nuevo Vallarta.

Culinary use

The species is found in various locations of central and southern Mexico during the start of the rainy season, when the soil becomes wet and the ants leave for their nuptial flight. That time of the year is the most active for the ''chicatanas'', during which they clean their anthill and create new colonies, becoming very abundant. In Chiapas, for example, they are harvested from late May to early July. In Tuxtla Gutiérrez, they are known as ''nucú'' and are prepared in a stew with the same name; in Chiapa de Corzo and Ocosingo they are respectively called ''nacasmá'' and ''cocosh''. They are also widely known in Veracruz, Oaxaca, the mountainous areas of Guerrero, Guanajuato, Puebla, Morelos, and Edomex. When consumed as snacks (''botanas''), they are uniquely fried with olive oil or toasted on a comal, usually with salt, lemon, and hot sauce, and traditionally accompany the Pox. They are also fried in tacos. In Maya regions, they are stewed in ''chilmole''. In Mixtec tradition, they are the main ingredient of a sauce called ''salsa de chicatanas'', which is also prepared with chili pepper, onion and garlic and smeared on cooked meat or cheese ''tortillas''. There are several variations of that sauce, such as the one prepared with chile de árbol by the Zoque people of Jamiltepec, the one made with coastal chili in Pinotepa Nacional, and one prepared with guajillo chili in the Mixteca Poblana. In Veracruz, they are included in a ''pipián'' called ''tlatonile''.


File:Formicidae - Atta mexicana.JPG|Workers of ''Atta mexicana'' at Montreal Insectarium File:Formicidae - Atta mexicana-3.JPG|''Atta mexicana'' at Montreal Insectarium File:Atta mexicana casent0421377 profile 1.jpg|Profile view of ant ''Atta mexicana'' File:Atta mexicana casent0421379 head 1.jpg|Head view of a soldier ant of ''Atta mexicana'' File:Atta mexicana casent0421377 dorsal 1.jpg|Dorsal view of worker ant of ''Atta mexicana''

See also

*List of leafcutter ants


Further reading

Sunjian A and H Li (2005). ''Atta mexicana in the resort community of Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.'' Notes from Underground 11(1).

External links

Category:Atta (genus) Category:Insects described in 1858 Category:Hymenoptera of North America Category:Edible insects {{myrmicinae-stub