''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
) 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.
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
they are respectively called ''nacasmá'' and ''cocosh''.
They are also widely known in Veracruz
, the mountainous areas of Guerrero
, and Edomex
When consumed as snack
s (''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 taco
s. In Maya
regions, they are stewed in ''chilmole
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 ''tortilla
There are several variations of that sauce, such as the one prepared with chile de árbol
by the Zoque people
, 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''
*List of leafcutter ants
Further readingSunjian A and H Li (2005). ''Atta mexicana in the resort community of Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.'' Notes from Underground 11(1).
Category:Insects described in 1858
Category:Hymenoptera of North America