by Patrick Kavanagh
As I was walking through our bush yesterday, I noticed quite a few ants moving around on some new shoots on a fallen Grey Box tree. Thanks to Alex Wild’s presentation in July, I recognised them as Muscle Man Tree Ants Podomyrma adelaidae by the two yellow marks on their abdomens. As I started photographing them, I noticed that many of them seemed to be very carefully tending numerous small leafhopper nymphs some of which seemed to have just moulted. The ants were touching them all over their backs and wings and seemed occasionally to carry them around, although the nymphs were pretty quick little movers under their own steam. I assume that the ants were getting some nutritious substance off the nymphs, or would at some stage. Perhaps the ants were grooming the nymphs. Alex’s excellent website has images of these ants in symbiotic relationships with caterpillars, getting sweet fluid off the caterpillars and removing parasites.