They say good things come in small packages, as a leafcutter ant colony has discovered after receiving what is believed to be the world’s smallest Valentine’s Day card.
The colony, which lives at Hunstanton’s Sea Life Sanctuary, was handed the miniscule card made by herpetologist Ally Sharp as part of a wider enrichment programme to keep the tiny critters’ foraging instincts sharp and their muscles strong.
Ally said: “In the wild, leafcutter ants forage for a variety of vegetation from leaves, grasses and flowers – they are reputedly able to reduce a tree’s worth of foliage to shreds in a single day when they get going!
“They use the materials they collect to create compost to help grow their fungus gardens inside their nest.”
He said the cultivated fungus is then used to feed the entire colony.
“I was already planning to give the ants some different environmentally friendly materials to compost in their little fungus gardens to keep their foraging instincts sharp and their muscles strong,” he added.
“At the moment I’m using rice paper and thought it would be cute to cut it into hearts for Valentine’s Day as while these little guys are small they are incredibly fascinating and I love them all!”
The Valentine’s Day card made by Ally for the ants is 3mm wide by 5mm tall.
“We believe the 5mm heart is the smallest Valentine’s Day card ever to be delivered – we’ve had a good look online and can’t find evidence of a smaller one. We’ve found one that is a bit bigger than a 10 pence piece but ours is far smaller than that,” Ally said.
The record for the world’s smallest Christmas card is currently held by British scientists working at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, south west London, who created a Christmas card 200 million times smaller than a postage stamp in 2017.
For more information or to book tickets to see the leafcutter colony at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary visit www.visitsealife.com/hunstanton.