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  6. Amazing leafcutter ants and other live creatures featured in Bugs Alive exhibition!

Amazing leafcutter ants and other live creatures featured in Bugs Alive exhibition!

OTTAWA, April 6, 2022 – The Canadian Museum of Nature has some new residents, and some of them just can’t sit still. Leafcutter ants—industrious, remarkable insects that work around the clock —are the star attraction in Bugs Alive, a permanent exhibition of live insects and arachnids that opened today.

“Leafcutter ants are fascinating”, says Stacy Wakeford, Interim Chief Content Officer. “They farm fungus. In fact, they’re the first farmers on the planet. Next to humans, they form the most complex society on Earth.”

Visitors will be able to watch these busy little farmers at work in their specially-designed 3.3-metre-long habitat, cutting vegetation and transporting leaves to their fungal nests inside transparent orbs.

© Canadian Museum of Nature


“Live-animal exhibitions are always a popular draw for the public,” says Wakeford. “Seeing live creatures up close helps people connect with nature and better appreciate biodiversity,” she says. “In Bugs Alive, visitors will learn about the importance of insects and arachnids to the environment and to biodiversity”.

Along with leafcutter ants, Bugs Alive features 20 other species of crawling creatures: stick insects, tarantulas, beetles, scorpions, millipedes, Florida katydids and the Horrid king assassin bug. Visitors will discover which ones are hunters, which are skilled at hiding thanks to camouflage, and which are master recyclers.

The exhibition extends into the museum solarium—with its natural light and lush vegetation, it’s a tranquil setting in which to relax and connect with the natural world.

Other engaging components include a micro-eye station where visitors can examine preserved specimens under a magnifier, and a climbable model of a Hercules beetle that provides opportunities for play and fun photos.

Bugs Alive is a permanent exhibition and is included with museum admission. Timed-ticketing is in effect. Purchase tickets at

The museum is located at 240 McLeod Street in Ottawa, and is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

Follow the museum’s social media channels:, Twitter (@museumofnature), Instagram (museumofnature), YouTube and LinkedIn.

Cool facts about leafcutter ants

  • Leafcutter ants can strip as much as 17% of the leaf biomass from plants in their ecosystem and can clear entire trees in under a day.
  • Leafcutter ants carefully grow gardens of fungus to feed their larvae. They fertilize the fungus with layers of leaves that they cut from plants surrounding the nest.
  • Their nests contain thousands of rooms and millions of ants. Every ant has a job, from soldier to garbage-collector!
  • They don’t eat the leaves they cut. The ants get their nutrients from sap, and all the leaves go to the fungus farm.
  • They’re typically found in the tropical forests of Central and south America. They can also be found in a few of the southern U.S. states.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature 
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6-million-specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, 

For more information,  or to obtain hi-res images:

Laura Sutin 
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature

Dan Smythe
Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature