Housekeeping Army Ants

In Mashpi, we can observe one of the world’s most fascinating symbiotic relationships first-hand: that between army ants and ant birds. Army ants literally “sweep” the forest floor when they are hunting, spooking out insects from their hiding places. Over time a group of birds called antbirds have learned to follow these swarms as they hunt, capturing any insect that manages to escape the ants.

Believe it or not, at the lodge something similar happens, because every morning before guests arrive at our terrace for birdwatching, our team of housekeepers comes to clean and “sweep” all the moths that alighted here the the night before, attracted by the lights. Most of them manage to escape and fly into the forest. But, we have observed that the moths are then captured by a group of antbirds who have developed their own symbiotic relationship with our housekeepers! They take advantage of the morning sweep every day to feast on moths.

Our entire housekeeping team are a bit like ants: they’re ordered, organized and hard working. But they also play an important role in the ecosystem of the hotel, performing the same function of the army ants, providing food to antbirds.

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