Francine's picture

Very bizarre

Observed: 4th May 2011 By: FrancineFrancine’s reputation in InvertebratesFrancine’s reputation in InvertebratesFrancine’s reputation in InvertebratesFrancine’s reputation in Invertebrates
IMG_0113 1

While photographing flowers in my garden, I found one cornflower stalk that was covered with insects. Looking at them through the lens, they were of various sizes and appeared to be dead with legs sticking up all over the place.
There were a few ants scurrying around, is this a result of them?

    Likely ID
    Confidence: It might be this.
  • Uroleucon sp
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


Syrphus's picture

These are aphids, as you say.

These are aphids, as you say. The ants are feeding off the honeydew that the aphids excrete. Ants can't tap easily into sugar-rich plant sap, so they use the aphids as 'drinking straws'. They may even be 'farming' the aphids, tending and protecting them and increasing their numbers.



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on

Francine's picture


I knew about ants 'milking' aphids but didn't expect them to appear dead. I've checked them again this morning, most of them don't move when touched but a few of them did. I'll keep an eye on them and see what happens.

Francine's picture

Additional photo

I've just been out again to check them and they do seem to becoming active, see second photo. Last night and earlier this morning they did all have their legs in the air but now they are starting to move around again.

Alan, they do look like those in the link you added.