Are Ants Attracted to Aphids?
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, you may have wondered: Are ants attracted to aphids? Ants and aphids are a deadly combination for plants.
In a symbiotic relationship, ants care for and protect aphids. They also provide aphids with a food source. Ants also protect aphids from predators. In exchange, aphids provide ants with honeydew. This honeydew is a sugar-rich liquid that ants like.
Ants also protect aphids against other predators, such as ladybirds. Ants also protect aphid colonies from fungal outbreaks. In addition, ants provide aphids with a source of protein. Ants can carry 5,000 times their own body weight, so they are effective predators.
Ants can pick up aphids with mandibles. They also carry aphid eggs when they travel to a new nest site.
Several species of ants also “milk” aphids for honeydew. Ants can stroke aphids with their antennae to stimulate their production of honeydew. Ants also use their feet to release chemicals that inhibit aphid wings. This chemical slows aphids’ movements by about a third.
Ants also feed on aphids when they are no longer useful. This is why ants will sometimes bite aphids’ wings to prevent them from flying away. Ants will also remove infected aphid bodies.
Ants and aphids reproduce faster than most species. This is why aphids are sometimes called plant lice. They also transmit deadly viruses.
Aphids are attracted to stressed plants. This is why ants often move aphid colonies to healthier plants.