Day 11: insect farms

We get absorbed in our own world and only see things/animals that are large enough to notice at a glance. Sometimes, to see the best animal spectacles you need to look for something a little bit smaller.

For day 11 I searched for an aphid colony that was being farmed by ants. This is quite common and didn’t take me long to find. This is how it works:

  • Aphids love to eat plant sap.
  • They bite into plants to extract the sap.
  • They’re waste, honeydew, is pushed out of their bodies in big droplets.
  • Ants love the taste of honeydew!
  • However, aphids get eaten by a host of predators – mainly other insects.
  • Ants have strong and powerful bites and can protect the aphids from attack.
  • The ants protect the aphids and can continually harvest honeydew.

It’s a lot like how humans started to farm cows I suppose!

I loved watching the ants scuttle up and down the plant’s stem to check on each aphid. It was a hive of activity, a lot like an insect tower block or metropolis.

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