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The Social Mutualistic Relationship in Ants

A mutualistic interaction exists between ants and aphids that create honeydew. Usually, aphids develop thick colonies on deciduous stems and leaves in this association, and ants satisfy their demands for carbohydrates by gathering honeydew expelled by the insects consuming phloem. Aphids gain benefit from the presence of ants as a result of a decrease in predation and parasitism, reducing the invasion of fungi, and also improves reproduction in certain species. Once ants are removed, colonies of aphid vanishes and colonies with ants have more chances to persist. They also showed a greater fraction of wingless adults as compared to winged in the unattended colonies. When ants attended the aphid colonies,they continue to flourish and part of this accomplishment is owing to the fortification ant’s offer. The mutualism intensity between aphids and ants is dependent on different components, such as the concentration of a host, characteristics of the host plant, species-certain divergences among the species of aphids and ants involved, periodic changes in ants’ honeydew demand, and the gap between the group of aphids and the colony of ants. In all cases of ant-aphid mutualism, the ants must effectively protect their aphids from predators of aphids such as ladybird beetles so the aphid group results in discerning advantages for the colony members of both species.Trees lacking ants defending them were practically lacking aphids. Attack of aphids decreases aphid health, but if predation triggers a decline in their food resource, it can also have selective effects for the ants. Understanding of ant’s defensive behavior when defending aphid colonies is largely based on anecdotal data, and few objective studies have investigated the existence of the ants’ protection.

Ants and plants:
Myrmecophytes known as “ant-plant”are the plants that have a mutualistic relationship with ants. There are more than 100 divers emyrmecophyte species. Myrmecophytes show distinct structural modifications known as domatia that supply ants with shelter. The broadened thorns on Acacia trees that ants scoop out and later use for their shelter is the most common example of domatia. Sugar sap for the consumption of ants is also supplied by the tree. The ants assertively guard the Acacia tree against feeding herbivores in return. In are as ranging from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina, there is another plant-ant association identical to the ants and the Acacia tree. One of the most important plants found in this region is Cecropia. The success of their growth is chiefly due to the various special adaptations, they have adopted together with their nearmutualistic connection with Aztec ants.

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Aztec Ants and Cecropia:
Azteca ant queens masticate a hole into a tiny dimple found on the leaf while the Cecropia plants are still saplings. In this portion, the plant’s wall is thin compared to the rest, so the ants can easily create holes at that specific position. The queen scrapes the internal tissue until inside, then uses it to close the opening she penetrated. Then before the workers appear, the queen lays its eggs and looks after the larvae. The plants of Cecropia develop very rapidly and produce unoccupied internodes after one to four weeks. For Azteca ant colonies, these unoccupied internodes have a temperature-controlled shelter. To make hierarchical structures within the internodes, the ants may use the tissue lining the internodes. A healthy food supply for the ants is also provided by this tissue. But that is not the only food supplied to the ants by the plant. They have specialized assemblies at the base of each leaf that creates food bodies rich in glycogen that fit entirely between the mandibles of the workers.The ant colony protects the tree from herbivores and rival plants in exchange for food and protection. The worker ants patrol the tree’s stems and leaves, round the clock. The ants will easily strike it with their sharp jaws if an insect herbivore is on the tree. They will even aggressively attack sloths and apes, and hundreds will crawl on them. Azteca ants also remove soil and pieces of debris off the leaf surfaces, in addition to shielding the tree, so that the leave can absorb sunlight for photosynthesis better. If the tree is touched by a foreign plant, such as a vine, the ants may eat the stem of the encroaching plant.

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