Be my Val-ant-ine... World’s smallest card given by ants at Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary
- Credit: Photo-Features.co.uk
A colony of leaf-cutter ants have received what is believed to be the world's smallest Valentine's Day card.
The minuscule card was made by herpetologist Ally Sharp at Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary to keep the tiny insects' foraging instincts sharp and their muscles strong.
Known as the farmers of the insect world, leaf-cutter ants grow their own food in underground fungus farms.
Pieces of leaf are carried hundreds of metres, with each ant carrying a piece up to 50 times its own body weight.
The tiny rainforest dwelling creatures are not normally known for their romantic side.
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Mr Sharp said: 'In the wild, leaf-cutter ants forage for a variety of vegetation from leaves, grasses and flowers.
'They are reputedly able to the reduce a tree's worth of foliage to shreds in a single day when they get going.
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'They use the materials they collect to create compost to help grow their fungus gardens inside their nest. 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.
'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 smallest Valentine's Day card made by Mr Sharp for the ants is 3mm wide by 5mm tall, and is believed by staff at the seafront sanctuary to be the smallest Valentine's Day card ever to have been delivered.
Mr Sharp added: '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.'
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
some 200m times smaller than a postage stamp in 2017.