7 comments on “Ants in the Devil’s Garden

    • The articles I read said one “orchard” could be over 100 meters across. You could try a search on the name, or click on the links in this post.

  1. I have seen these “devil’s gardens” a couple of times in the Peruvian Amazon. The largest one was perhaps one acre, and the local people say it is rare to find larger ones. As to the “evil spirit”. Actually “Chullachaki” is a more complex mythical being. He can be easily distinguished, as he has one foot and one hoof. Though the story varies in different parts of the amazon, he will supposedly punish people who use the forest unwisely, such as killing more game than you can eat etc. People are then punished by getting them lost in the forest using a variety of magical tricks.

    • That’s interesting, Bart. Thank you. I like stories about spirits that teach people how to live in their world. They’re a good way to pass down hard-won knowledge.

      Is their any feeling or impression that stands out for you from being in these places?

      • I have spent probably 3 years total working in the Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Bolivian Amazon, and have seen many interesting things in the various forest types. There are areas dominated by different species of palms in certain swamp forests, however I have never seen a natural environment in the terra firma forest above the flood plane with only one shrub species growing in such a large area. I believe the ants probably are able to establish these after a large tree fall provides a substantial light gap. If I didn’t know better I would have assumed that it was some kind of human cultivated patch, however, with no sign of trails or humans near these places it does give you a strange feeling. I have photos of “Devil’s Gardens” and of the domatia (swollen spaces in the stem) that the shrub provides for ant symbionts to live in, if you would like to see some for possible posting I could e-mail a few.

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