Martha O'Kennon

One of the things we will be looking at soon is the idea of Symbiosis, the way in which two (or more) unrelated creatures live with each other. Each of their lives is enhanced in some way by the other.

You might have heard about a colony of Ants who adopt a colony of Aphids. The Aphids excrete a sweet sap called "Honeydew", which is very tasty to the Ants. In return, the Ants protect the Aphids from other predators, and also the act of licking up the Honeydew keeps the Aphids clean and hence immune from fungus or other kinds of diseases brought on because of non-clean environments.

I'm going to show you in a couple of weeks some examples in my yard. You're going to see how certain Ants have this relationship with a Treehopper colony. Again, the Ants get Honeydew from the Treehopper Nymphs and the Nymphs have the protection and cleaning services of the Ants so that they grow up to be nice healthy Adults.

I'll just show you a couple of pictures for now. I actually have colonies of two kinds of Treehoppers who make use of "Ant-nannies". Here's a picture of each pair, and their similar Relationships. First is a Nymph of the Two Mark Treehopper; then we see an Ant with a mouthful of honeydew it has just received from the Nymph.

Next we see another species of Treehopper, called a Keeled Treehopper because of the two square humps or "keels" on the creature's back.

Is anybody going to ask if there are examples of symbiosis between plants and animals? Here's a start.


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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021