Each day patrols of worker ants, led by scout ants, leave in long files to collect pieces of mature leaves. The ants may collect leaves from nearby or from trees 100 yards away, after climbing 40 feet into the tree's crown. On long journeys they leave a chemical trail for other colony members to follow and to find their way back. Each worker cuts out a portion of a leaf that often weighs 50 times as much as itself for carrying back to the nest.
When the leaves are brought into the colony, the ants begin the farming process. They chew up the leaves and mix them with saliva and anal secretions to make a mulch on which the fungus will grow. The fungus breaks down the mulch as it grows and the ants (of all ages) eat the spores produced by the fungus. If any other species of fungus forms, the ants weed it out. When young females leave the colony to begin their own they take a mouthful of fungus with them as 'seeds' for a new crop of fungus.
Mini-worker ants accompany the workers on these leaf-gathering forays, and snap at hunch-back flies that try to lay eggs on the ant's body or leaf. (If the eggs hatch in the nest, the fly larvae will eat the ant larvae.) Soldier ants fight off any enemies. Other ants keep the trails clear of debris, leaves, twigs, etc, and repair them as needed.