Sunday, May 15, 2011
Some Aphid Guardians
This ant attention benefits the plant because the ants drive away insect herbivores. Some plants do this naturally by producing extra floral nectar, which also discourages the ants from stealing it from the flowers.
The downside for the plant is they can't control the number of aphids. This can be a real problem for the plant but typically it only inhibits the production of new growth and doesn't cause as much damage as a veracious horde of caterpillars. Some caterpillars can completely defoliate a host tree twice over in a year. So having some ants crawling all over to discourage or even remove the problem of caterpillars greatly benefits the plant.