Why Do Ants Like Aphids?
Among the most important reasons ants like aphids is because of the sweet honeydew that aphids produce. Ants, in return, provide protection to the aphids. Ants also protect aphid colonies from predators. Ants also produce chemical compounds that keep aphid colonies quiet.
There are several different species of ants that actively farm aphids. The yellow meadow ant, Lasius japonicus, is one species of ant that actively selects the most productive aphids. They also actively practice husbandry of livestock.
Another species of ant, Lasius flavus, actively works to establish and maintain a nest mound habitat. It’s thought that this success might be a combination of traits that is unique to this species.
Ants carry aphids into the nest and protect them from predators. They also kill aphids that are sick or don’t produce enough honeydew. Ants also store aphid eggs in optimal nest conditions.
Some ants, in addition to caring for the aphids, destroy the eggs of known aphid predators. Ants may also force aphids to consume chemicals in order to control them. This helps to maintain the symbiotic relationship between ants and aphids.
There are also several ants that care for aphids during the winter. These species are called shepherding ants and they specialize in shepherding aphid colonies.
Some ants also destroy aphid eggs when they know that an aphid colony is about to become a threat to the nest. Some ants are even known to eat aphids. Ants are known for their amazing behaviour.