Ants tending to their sheep :- Ants milking.

June 5th, 2011 by Ray Burman Leave a reply »

Farming Ants milking

Did you realize that ants look after aphids to the mutual benefit of both parties?

Well if you are a gardener you will be well aware of this.  And will be used to each year getting out your chemical spray to kill those pesky aphids on the tips of your new grow buds.

Even if you are a gardener, you most probably wouldn’t know that ants will have most probably found these aphids before you.

Ants have the natural tendency to seek out new food sources, and where there are aphids and ants can find access to them (usually by climbing up a stem or truck of a tree) , they will use these aphids as a source of food….

Ants Milking

What is surprising is that they don’t eat these aphids, but gently prod them, the aphids then excrete a droplet of sweet sap from there rear end (ant’s have a sweet tooth) and it survives to live another day.

The ant benefits from the meal and the aphids benefit from being protected by the presence of the ants.

How did the Ants milking behavior come about

These are the sort of relationships that I find fascinating. How did this relationship start? Do the aphids intentionally produce this sweet sap for the ant’s or is it simply a natural by products of there eating behavior? However this come about, nature has found a way for both species of insect to co exist together.

Now what I am not sure is do ants still eat aphids from time to time when they fancy some meat?


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