Ant takes up aphid herding inside a Bramley apple flower

IMG_3330ant and aphids

Ants and aphids have a good deal, otherwise known as a symbiotic relationship. Ants protect the aphids in return for giving them a squeeze, or at least stroking them with their antennae, in this way encouraging the voracious plant-consuming pests to excrete their honeydew waste. And ants can’t get enough of it. So they herd and manage and protect their aphid herds, moving them from harm’s way, seeing off predators, in  particular ladybirds, whose eggs they will destroy.

In the next photos you can see the aphids have been ‘parked’ while the ant goes off to forage in the blossom and then patrol the ‘perimeter’.

IMG_3334

IMG_3336

Fascinating what one finds on the way home from the allotment. The photos were taken one evening last week so not the best light conditions.

Lens-Artists: Focusing on the details  Patti asks us to look at the finer points.

30 thoughts on “Ant takes up aphid herding inside a Bramley apple flower

  1. You must be the very person to solve my dilemma, Tish! Two of our patio plants became infested with aphids last year and the ants ran amock, harvesting them. I didn’t seem to be able to do anything to prevent this 😕. The trumpet vines are flowering again. One most healthily, the other a little sad. Any thoughts? 🤔💕

    1. Very mild soapy water in a sprayer – whoosh aphids off and repeat. It will be a bit messy! Otherwise you need to round up a little army of ladybirds. Aphids do tend to attack ailing plants, so if you can perk up the sad one. Repot it perhaps (?)

  2. Ants have done much stranger things! This one makes an excellent aphid herd. I could do with borrowing it to keep all the ones my garden attracts on a leaf in the far corner where they can do no harm.

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