Ants and aphid farming.

Humans are not the only animal to raise other animals for food. Amazingly ants will raise aphids for a secretion called Honeydew which is produced when the ant rubs the aphid sides with their antenna.

Below are black ants attending their aphid herd on a lily.

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The ants will move the aphids around the plant to the newest growth as aphids feed on plant sap and also protect them from predators and parasites.

Below are the aphids feeding on the seed pod of a lily.

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Some species of ants will take the aphids underground in the winter to feed on the roots of plant and to protect them from freezing. Other species will save the eggs of aphids underground during the winter months then move them back to the grazing plants in the spring to start a new “herd” for honeydew the following spring!

Amazing!

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13 Comments

Filed under General Gardening

13 responses to “Ants and aphid farming.

  1. Truly amazing. I feel really bad when I have to exterminate ants. Right now the fire ants are busily building mounds all over the yard.

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    • Fire ant are a real problem here in the South. The are believed to have arrived from South America on a ship docked in New Orleans. Here in the South they have a strange attraction to electrical current and will build nest in transformers and electrical boxes causing them to short out! Not to mention the illness and deaths caused by their attacks when their nest are disturbed.

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  2. There are some incredible things going on in nature.

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  3. that is fascinating Arthur!

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  4. Wow, who knew? Ants herding aphids. Nature is amazing.

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  5. Very interesting to know,… 🙂

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  6. it is amazing – feeding on a illy pod is perfect – sadly the ants farm fat aphids on all my balcony plants and I often end up squashing the aphids, and feeling a bit guilty but obviously its not good for the plants to leave them there.

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