Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Good Neighbors

It seems with all the furor that erupted over the spread of fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) through the U.S., an associated invasive species was being overlooked. According to ScienceDaily, scientists at Texas A&M University have reported that the Rhodesgrass Mealybug (Antonina graminis) was discovered living in association with fire ants, and in fact were provided lodging, along with an aphid species, in "shelters" built by the ants nearby their own mounds. More research needs to be done to explain exactly why the ants sometimes build these shelters, but it is obvious that they do have a symbiotic relationship with the mealybugs. You can read the abstract for this study, published in this month's Ecology.

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