Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Wandering through your gardens – the things you discover! Dairy ants
I do love touring my gardens, checking to see what’s going on. Even though I know what’s supposed to happen, I always feel really delighted when it does! Like seeing my lemon yellow lilies blooming outrageously!
And then there’s usually some unwanted stuff hanging out in the garden! The picture below is of a Japanese beetle on my canna. I took the shot before I squished him!
A few years ago, I found, what looked like black fungus, all over the stems and under the leaves of a Ninebark ‘Coppertina’ I had. Black ants were crawling all over them. The biting kind too! Now I’ve mentioned before that aphids come in many colors but I’ve personally only dealt with the green and red ones. On further inspection with a microscope, this black fungus turned out to be huge masses of black aphids. The ants play a large role in this.
DAIRY ANTS keep herds of aphids, like farmers keep herds of cows. In the winter, these ants carry aphids into their nests and care for them. In the spring, the aphids are placed on plants(in this case my Ninebark shrub), where they feed. The ants “milk” the aphids by stroking them with their antennae. That signals the aphids to release a sweet substance called honeydew. The ants get a tasty meal — and the aphids get protection from predators. But not from me and my soapy water. I’ve also seen them on burdock.
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