, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 15-27
Date: 16 Nov 2006

Interactions between ants and aphidophagous and coccidophagous ladybirds

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Aphidophagous and coccidophagous coccinellids come into conflict with homopteran-tending ants for access to food. Antagonistic interactions between coccinellids and ants may be competitive or non-competitive. Competitive interactions occur when coccinellids attack aphids or coccids that are being tended by ants for honeydew. Non-competitive interactions include all interactions away from ant-tended homopteran colonies. We here review observations and studies of such interactions. We note that most competitive interactions occur at times when untended aphids/coccids are scarce. We describe the chemical and physical defences that coccinellids use against ant aggression and consider whether these have evolved as general anti-predator deterrents or specifically in response to ants. Myrmecophilous coccinellids are then considered, with particular focus on the two most studied species, Coccinella magnifica and Platynaspis luteorubra. We note that the myrmecophily of the two species has the same adaptive rationale—to enable the ladybirds to prey on ant-tended aphids at times of aphid scarcity—but that it is based on different traits to facilitate life with ants. Finally, we consider the role of ants in the evolution of habitat specialisation in some coccinellids.