Thursday 21 July 2011

Ants tending aphids

Ants have a sweet tooth. They gather nectar from flowers, buds and nectaries but also farm animals to obtain their sweet honeydew. These farmed animals are scale insects and aphids. Ants tend the aphids (above), protect them from their predators and parasites and keep them together for easy "milking". To obtain the honeydew produced by aphids, ants stimulate them with their antennae, after which the aphid will secrete a droplet of sugar rich liquid. These ants are tending groups of aphids on an Iris leaf. To soften the built-in flash light I put a piece of kitchen paper in front of it, holding it with my left finger.

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