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Photo#383246
Lasius umbratus with tree root aphids - Lasius umbratus

Lasius umbratus with tree root aphids - Lasius umbratus
Shaw Nature Reserve near Gray Summit, Franklin County, Missouri, USA
April 5, 2010
Size: ant 3.5 mm aphid 1 mm
This ant, as other "yellow Lasius", is reputed to feed largely on the honeydew of the root-feeding aphids it harbors underground (supplemented by amino acids from nitrogen-fixing bacterial endosymbionts). The aphids are kept among the clustered ants through the winter, then dispersed out onto roots during the warm season. Here a nervous worker antennates a young aphid on a tree root. Note the droplets of honeydew on all but one of the aphids on the "ant side" of the root.
A few of the aphids had already been carried off by the ants, as in the second image.

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Lasius umbratus with tree root aphids - Lasius umbratus Lasius umbratus with tree root aphids - Lasius umbratus