Do Ants Like Aphids?
Whether or not ants like aphids has been debated for a long time. Researchers have found that ants prefer aphids that produce honeydew. Honeydew is a sweet substance made from excess sugars. It is the ant’s favourite food, and they do not want to lose it.
Ants protect aphids from predators, and they may use chemicals to stop them from flying. They also build pastures for aphids. They also remove ill aphids from the colony. They sometimes also eat aphids.
Ants prefer aphids that produce nutrient-rich honeydew. They can also manipulate the reproductive success of aphids. They can manipulate the number of reproductions of an inferior morph, or the number of reproductions of a dominant morph.
They can also manipulate the number of wingless aphids. They can force aphids to ingest chemicals, or they can make them grow wings to fly away.
Ants also use their footprints to calm aphids. They emit chemicals that act as pheromone trails, and they slow aphids down. In addition, ants pick up aphids with their mandibles. They can also use pheromones from their feet to sedate aphids.
Some researchers believe that ants prefer aphids with green and red colors. Red aphids may produce more honeydew than green aphids. However, red aphids may also stop flowering of mugwort. If they do, the green aphids could be more productive in the long run.
The ants also prefer aphids that are in close proximity to their nests. They do not like aphids that are far away. They prefer aphids that are near their nests because they do not want to lose a food source.