Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ants & Aphids

I have moved to

Aphids invaded parts of my lawn, due to uncontrolled growth of weeds. Before mowing my lawn, I took the opportunity to observe its activities and capture some photographs.

Fig.1 A group of aphids (young and adults) on the stem of grass

As I was observing, I noticed black spiny ants (polyrhachis sp.) were climbing up and down on these grass where the aphids were. I did not know what they were doing, but noticed the ants were using its antennas to touch the aphids. In some occasion, it pushed the aphids so hard that the aphids were partly lifted off the grass.

Fig 2. A black spiny ant rubbing aphids with its antenna

As ants usually attack or eat other insects, I was surprised it did not attack the aphids. After googling the web, I realised ants have good relationship with aphids. They depend on each other. The ants want the honey the aphids could supply. In return, the aphids are protected from their predators.

Fig 3. An ant passed an aphids with bulky abdomen (indicating honey were available)

Fig 4. "Finger licking good", the ant cleaning up its arm after spilled with honey

Fig 3. Tetramonium hispidum milking honey off an aphids

Other than the black spiny ants, there were another species of ant, tetramonium hispidum, looking for honey from the aphids. Despite its smaller size, the red ants dominates. Black ants were seen being chased away.

Fig 4. Tetramonium hispidum & aphids

Fig 5. Black spiny ant witnessed the birth of a young aphids

Unlike other insects, this species of aphids reproduce asexually where the females give birth to offspring without mating or laying eggs.

Fig 6. A young ant with aphids

Fig 7. Winged aphids

Most adult do not have wings. However, when the population is high, female aphids produce wing capable aphids where the wing will grow as they are matured. This enable them to disperse to other areas for food.

Fig 8. Aphids predator

Where there are aphids, there are predators. Usually the predators are a larvae of beetles.

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