Thanksgiving Point Begins 25th Anniversary with new ‘Leafcutter Ants’ Exhibit
Lehi– Thanksgiving Point (www.thanksgivingpoint.org) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020. As part of the celebration the newest permanent exhibit at the Butterfly Biosphere will be the first-in-Utah ‘Leafcutter Ants’ animal exhibit. In partnership with the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation and the Ashton Family Foundation, these amazing invertebrates hail from Trinidad and will join more than 1,000 butterflies who already call the Butterfly Biosphere home. This new exhibit officially opens on the 25th Anniversary of Thanksgiving Point, Valentine’s Day, Friday February 14. (Soft opening for media begins today, February 12).
“Leafcutter ants are some of the most ancient farmers on the planet, having developed agriculture about 50 million years ago,” stated Butterfly Biosphere Containment Director Marissa Harrison. “The structures you’ll see inside their nest chambers are gardens of fungus meticulously designed and tended by the ants. Once leaf fragments are brought into the nest, an assembly line of ants cuts them into smaller pieces, then mulches them into pellets, then fertilizes and arranges the pellets into piles, and finally plants strands of fungus onto them to encourage new growth.”
Guests entering the Butterfly Biosphere will be able to immerse themselves in the lives and work of these amazing ants. A clear tubing structure allows guests to be amazed and awed at this colony as they work in real time. In the 10-15 years this colony will live at Thanksgiving Point, it is unlikely to ever produce a male leafcutter ant. Male leafcutter ants are only born when the colony is large enough to expand to other locations. Leafcutter colonies can contain 1-5 million ants at the height of their maturity, the queen ant laying around 150 million eggs over the course of her 15-year lifespan. Colonies this size are only successful because they work together. This colony features nearly 65,000 Leafcutter Ants.
The ‘Leafcutter Ant’ exhibit is included with Butterfly Biosphere admission and is a free feature for all Thanksgiving Point members, open from 10 am to 8 pm Monday-Saturdays. More info: https://www.thanksgivingpoint.org/experience/butterfly-biosphere/
This exhibit is also featured in Thanksgiving Point’s Museums for All program which allows underserved guests discounted tickets by showing their SNAP or EBT cards. More info: https://www.thanksgivingpoint.org/museums-for-all/