El Batracio

El Batracio

El Batracio

That cattle breeding began on the land during the Neolithic period with the domestication of cows and sheep is a truth accepted by almost all of us, only it is not so certain.

Insects invented it first

El Batracio
El Batracio

Illustration of the book: "Insects did it First" by R. Akre, G. Paulson and E Catts. The aphids (hemiptera: Aphididae) are phytophagous insects that feed on the sap of plants and as the sap is not very nutritious the aphid is forced to take large amounts of this to feed properly, which creates the problem of getting rid of excess water. The aphids, and other phylogenetically related insects (1), confront this problem with a modification in their internal organs which, by way of bypass, shortens the passage of water throughout the digestive tract. But as nothing is 100% efficient this water removed contains certain concentrations of sugars and amino acids which together with water form that excretion known as "mielecilla" which is highly appreciated by several insects and profited by certain species of ants. The ant-ant interaction is probably the best-known example of symbiosis in the world of insects, the aphids provide the small plant and the ants in return provide protection against predators. Some ants in temperate climates are also responsible for "sowing" aphid eggs on the most convenient plants once the winter is over. A Camponotus ant from my garden in a probably defensive attitude towards "their "aphids.

Well, all this is nothing new, many of us know it from school or some movie like Antz. What at least I did not know was that the association is not so symmetrical. The aphids contribute more than the small plant in this company, yields in some way its right to "freedom of dispersion".

Ants like all livestock should have their "aphids" as close together as possible because it is easier to take advantage of the small plant and exercise the defense against predators. So for ants ants the appearance of winged aphids is "not business" in general because these winged will go elsewhere and particularly because they can go to found another colony right there in the territory of the neighboring ant hill that could then make war on them . It is thus that the ants manage the "herd" in such a way that the dispersion is delayed as much as possible or at best does not happen; some species of ants perform "the practice of the winged", bite and even eat the wings of their aphids, others more sophisticated secrete semiochemicals that inhibit the development of wings.

A delicious paper on the subject:

Related news