Subterranean Aphid Farming

An overcast, middling sort of day, ending in rain.

I’ve observed ants tending their flocks of aphids and leafhoppers on stems and leaves. I was more than a little surprised, however, to discover ants and aphids beneath a rock in our flower garden. A quick internet search indicated these were ants of the genus Lasius and root aphids.

These ants have been given the name Citronella Ants, as when disturbed (as when someone turns over the rock they are nesting under) some species of this genus emit an odor of citronella. Another common name, Fuzzy Ants, derives from the meaning of the Latin name, Lasius. Curiously, 1939 a ruling by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature ended a 130-year controversy over whether the name “lasius” could be used for this genus of ants or for a genus of bees. Two decades after the decision in favor of the ants, E. O. Wilson’s doctoral thesis laid the groundwork for the currently accepted taxonomy.

Once the ants I’d disturbed were exposed, they quickly dispersed but then soon returned to the aphids, eventually carrying them off to safety further underground in their nest. I wondered about the details of this farming: Is one ant assigned to one aphid? Is one ant in charge of several aphids? How is the food gathered from the aphids shared? Someone somewhere probably has the answers. I simply closed up the mystery by putting the rock back in place.

Publicado por scottking scottking, 13 de abril de 2017

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Observ.

scottking

Fecha

Abril 12, 2017 02:14 PM CDT

Descripción

Root Aphid
Northfield, Minnesota

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Hormigas Citronela (Género Lasius)

Observ.

scottking

Fecha

Abril 12, 2017 02:13 PM CDT

Descripción

Ants, tending root aphids
found under a stone
Northfield, Minnesota

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