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Treehopper being tended by ant - Publilia concava with Formica sp. Treehoppers are often tended by ants as part of a mutualistic relationship. Treehoppers secrete honeydew, which is made mostly from excess plant sap that they consume. Ants &quot;farm&quot; the treehoppers for their honeydew. To do this, an ant grasps a treehopper and strokes it with its antennae. This causes a droplet of honeydew to appear at the tip of the treehopper&rsquo;s abdomen, which the ant then consumes. Both insects benefit from this mutualistic relationship: The ants get honeydew, and in return, they protect the treehoppers from predators.<br />
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Female treehoppers deposit eggs along the midrib of host plants. Nymphs and adult treehoppers are tended by ants, and this tending has a strong positive influence on treehopper survival.<br />
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In this shot, there was one treehopper, eggs, and an ant (Formica sp.)<br />
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Habitat: Rural garden Formica,Geotagged,Publilia concava,Spring,United States,ant,mutualism,treehopper Click/tap to enlarge Promoted

Treehopper being tended by ant - Publilia concava with Formica sp.

Treehoppers are often tended by ants as part of a mutualistic relationship. Treehoppers secrete honeydew, which is made mostly from excess plant sap that they consume. Ants "farm" the treehoppers for their honeydew. To do this, an ant grasps a treehopper and strokes it with its antennae. This causes a droplet of honeydew to appear at the tip of the treehopper’s abdomen, which the ant then consumes. Both insects benefit from this mutualistic relationship: The ants get honeydew, and in return, they protect the treehoppers from predators.

Female treehoppers deposit eggs along the midrib of host plants. Nymphs and adult treehoppers are tended by ants, and this tending has a strong positive influence on treehopper survival.

In this shot, there was one treehopper, eggs, and an ant (Formica sp.)

Habitat: Rural garden

    comments (4)

  1. Love this scene, you captured the behavior so well! Posted 7 months ago
    1. Thanks, they are fun to watch. If I tap the leaf near the leafhoppers, the ants get very protective and scurry around furiously to find the intruder. They are diligent. Posted 7 months ago
  2. Fascinating farming! Posted 7 months ago
    1. Yes! It's nice to see species cooperating and watching out for each other! Posted 7 months ago

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Publilia concava (Say) treehoppers belong to Membracidae family.

Similar species: True Bugs
Species identified by Christine Young
View Christine Young's profile

By Christine Young

All rights reserved
Uploaded Jun 13, 2020. Captured Jun 12, 2020 21:40 in 281 Main St S, Woodbury, CT 06798, USA.
  • Canon EOS 90D
  • f/5.0
  • 1/128s
  • ISO500
  • 100mm