Ants Tending Leafhoppers

July 2, 2011 | Monte Alegre, Minas Gerais, Brazil

These ants are tending to some treehopper nymphs. Most of the ants are busy collecting honeydew, but the one on the bottom has noticed me and is on alert. I accidentally bumped the branch after this shot and all of the ants started running around looking for something to attack. I held up a leaf for a background here so that the ants would stand out.

In this next shot, I’m assuming the white areas are either treehopper eggs or a protective covering for the eggs. One of the adult treehoppers is also visible here, a darker shade of red than the nymphs.

Egg mass and adult treehopper

In this final shot, there are more eggs, another adult and some late instar nymphs.

More eggs and some late instar nymphs

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3 Responses to Ants Tending Leafhoppers

  1. Wow, I’ve never seen that shade of red in a treehopper before.

    Did you hand-hold the background leaf or pin it to something? I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to secure a false background and still hold the camera steady.

    • Troy Bartlett says:

      I hand-held the leaf. I usually brace my elbow against my body to help steady the camera. It’s still very much hit or miss though. Using just one hand, fatigue sets in pretty quickly trying to support the whole camera setup.

  2. Luísa says:

    Wow, that’s a colorful treehopper aggregation!!

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