Ants ( species- Formicidae )are the dominant macro-animal on Earth. There are over 12,400 species we know. Ants are almost everywhere, and wherever they are, they live in an astonishing array of symbiotic associations. These relationships range from gut symbioses with bacteria, to herding aphids, farming fungus, to welcoming butterfly larvae into their nests and feeding them, to planting seeds for many kinds of plants. Some ant/caterpillar behavioral symbioses are elaborate: the ants herd the caterpillars, lead them to feeding areas (pastures) and bring them inside the nest (barn) for the night. The caterpillars secrete honeydew when the ants massage them. Leafhoppers ( 20,000 species of Homoptera) which are about the size of ants share a similar relationship with ants as aphids.Leaf hoppers excrete a sticky, sweet liquid that ants adore. In return, the ants provide the same defensive measures fighting off predators coming after both the leaf hoppers and their eggs.
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