Mutualism: Effects of Ants on Aphids, Their Predators, and Host Plants
Aphids extract sap from plant stems, specifically the phloem tissue. They excrete “honeydew” which still contains plant sugars. Ants collect this honeydew, often by “milking” the aphids, and use it as food. In return, they protect the aphids against predators. Ants prey on predators of aphids such as ladybird beetles (coccinellids), thus defending the aphids. Ants also shelter aphids by taking them or their eggs into their nests during inclement seasons. In a sense, ants herd aphids like cows. Furthermore, without removal of honeydew, aphid colonies become fouled.
KeywordsHerbivorous Insect Alarm Pheromone Lady Beetle Phloem Tissue Plant Sugar
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