Harvester Larvae and Woolly Maple Aphid colony on bristly greenbrier - Feniseca tarquinius
Saxon Park, Norman, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, USA
September 20, 2017
A series of photos from a colony right alongside a running trail in a small park on the south edge of Norman, Oklahoma. The host aphids have been identified by Natalie Hernandez as Woolly Maple Aphids, Neoprociphilus aceris. The tending ants have been identified by James Trager as the False Honey Ant, Prenolepis imparis. And the host plant has been identified as bristly greenbrier, Smilax tamnoides, by Amy Buthod of the University of Oklahoma (she was present with me when I spotted this colony on 19 Sep). There were two adult harvesters perched on leaves of the vine on the 19th. I went back on the 20th for photography, and no adults were present. I went back again on 25 Sep for more photos, and the entire colony was gone. The vine was still there and looked the same, but no insects were there. I searched the immediate area and a lot of the greenbrier was present, but I could not find any more aphids or harvesters. So, this event might be a fleeting phenomenon.
Even though these photos represent multiple species and individuals, I'm keeping them all together as one group. For the IDs of the ants and aphids, I posted one photo of a single ant on the Prenolepis imparis page and one photo of the aphids on the Neoprociphilus aceris page.
This was an exciting find for me. I only wish I could have seen adults again.
I forgot to add, you can see the a few of the caterpillars feeding on the aphids. You can also see a few have added aphid parts to their backs. I also wonder if the ants receive honeydew from the caterpillars? Or do they emit a calming pheromone? Anyone know?
Images of this individual: tag all