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The Ant Aphid Relationship.

Keith Ball (July)



I took this snap whilst out walking with a group this weekend. It's a fine example of the intimate, symbiotic relationship exists between ants and aphids. They are often compared to cattle, with the ants acting as protectors and ranchers. What aphids have that ants want is something called honeydew, a sweet substance that is excreted by aphids through their anus and contains surplus sugar from the aphid's diet. Ants protect aphid eggs during the winter, and carry the newly hatched aphids to new host plants, where the aphids feed on the leaves and the ants get a supply of honeydew.

Recent research suggests that the ants actually control the aphids by releasing chemicals from their feet that tranquilise the aphids.

There are 11,880 known ant specie!






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