Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Over the past couple of weeks I have been photo-documenting
creatures found on purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria
) on Flickr. Yesterday I found a plant covered with small ants that were tending to a colony of tiny green aphids. While I have seen several different types of ants on purple loosestrife before, this is the first time I've ever seen them with an aphid colony.
If you are a Flickr member and would like to contribute to the Life on the Purple Loosestrife project, go here. You could win a free Flickr Pro account!
Update 8/05/05: Turns out that there is a species of aphid, Myzus lythri, that feeds only on purple loosestrife. It is thought to have been introduced from Europe around the same time purple loosestrife started showing up in the U.S. I have sent samples off to be identified and will post here when I find out what species they are.
Update 9/30/05: The ants in this photo were identified as Crematogaster cerasi by a scientist from the Systematic Entomology Laboratory. I am still waiting on the aphid id.
Interesting - sounds like at least one of the natural biological controls came over with the Loosestrife, but isn't making much of a dent in controlling the population. Maybe if native ants adapt widely to tending the aphids, they might have more of an impact.
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