Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Insects >>> True Bugs, Aphids, Leaf Hoppers, Scales and Cicadas >>> Horseweed Aphid

Horseweed Aphid


an aphid tended by ants on horseweed, Conyza, from Eldoret, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

These ants are feeding on sap from growing points of Conyza schimperi near Eldoret, Kenya, January 2012.

Horseweed Aphid-tending Ant Aphids have short legs and most of the time their long strawlike mouthparts are deeply imbedded in the plant tissue. Thus they are mobile, but very reluctantly so. When attacked by predators they are as likely to kick as to flee. Once a colony is established the founding females give birth to live nymphs that often stay nearby. Eventually a colony of dozens of squat bugs accumulates. Minute wasps, lacewings and ladybird beetles are among the predators that feast on these often abundant and easy to catch pests.

More often than not, aphids are closely guarded by ants seeking waste sugar. Sugar is a waste product because it is in abundance in plant sap, more than is needed. The ants help protect the aphids from their numerous enemies and may even carry them to safety during harmful weather events. Clicking the thumb links at right will provide more information about the host plant and the protecting ants.

Aphididae -- Aphid Family

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Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens. Page created 11 November 2012