I had planned to post just a single photo of this scene with ants tending treehoppers. Here we see at least two different colorful treehopper instars, with one actively molting. Ants like the one shown above tended to this small grouping of treehoppers. As I was choosing a photo to post, I noticed something strange about the treehoppers though. Do you see it too?
Look closely and you’ll see that a few nymphs have parasites. I wasn’t sure at first, so I started looking through my other photos. Sure enough, almost every one had one or more parasites. The parasites seem to prefer hiding under the wing pads and below the thorax.
Most of the parasites were small, but there were at least a few plump ones.
None of the photos provided a clear view of the parasites, but I suspect they are mites. In any case, apparently the services provided by the ants don’t include grooming.
Subjects: Ants, Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives, Insects, Treehoppers, and True Bugs.
Places: Brazil, Minas Gerais, South America, and Tupaciguara.
Behaviors: Gregarious, Molting, Parasitism, and Symbiosis.
Life Stages: Adult and Immature.
Taxa: Class Insecta, Family Formicidae, Family Membracidae, Order Hemiptera, and Order Hymenoptera.
Colors: Black, Orange, Red, Tan, and White.