We’re all pretty familiar with the aphid – those little green (or apparently other colored) things that gather on your plants in clusters and just kind of stay there. In doing just a little research, though, I’ve gained a whole insight into these fascinating little creatures. There are many types of aphids. The really interesting thing is that many of them are monophagous which means that they only feed on one species of plant. They feed on the sap from the phloem vessels in plants. In order to get the nutrients they need from it, they must consume large quantities which results in a large excess of waste expelled from their rear. This waste is called “honeydew”. Sounds gross, but what’s cool is that certain types of ants cherish this waste.
This is where things get interesting. These ants love the honeydew so much, that they actually protect and farm the aphids in order to get more. They actually “milk” the aphids by stoking them with their antennae. I’ve actually witnessed this in person, except at the time I thought it was trying to eat them. They even go as far as to gather the aphids’ eggs and store them in their nests over winter so that they can return the baby aphids back to the plant to produce more of the precious precious honeydew. How awesome is that?
I won’t kill them. Nature will take of that with some pounding rain storms and dry days under the blazing sun. I might actually miss them.