Kick Out The Ants: A Novel and Striking Behavior in Ant-Wasp Interactions

Leonardo Samuel Ricioli, Gabriela C. Mendes, Rhainer Guillermo Ferreira


Trophobiosis between ants and homopterans is widely known. Nevertheless, this interaction can also happen between treehoppers and other animals in a non-mutualistic way. For instance, here we observed the wasp Pseudopolybia vespiceps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) collecting honeydew flickered by Aethalion reticulatum (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha) as an alternative food resource. Fieldwork was conducted during three consecutive days, when we made ad libitum behavioral observations using video footage. We noted the behavior of P. vespiceps when collecting honeydew from A. reticulatum. Strikingly, our observations resulted in the description of novel wasp behavior. The wasps compete with ants for access to treehoppers by kicking them out of the plant. Studies like this contribute to the understanding of trophic nets that depend on hemipteran honeydew.


Kleptoparasitism; mutualism; foraging; competition; savannah; Brazil

Full Text:



Dejean, A. & Turillazzi, S. (1992) Territoriality during trophobiosis between wasps and homopterans. Tropical Zoology, 5: 237-247. doi: 10.1080/03946975.1992.10539196

Barônio, G., Pires, A. C. V. & Aoki, C. (2014). Trigona branneri (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as a collector of honeydew from Aethalion reticulatum (Hemiptera: Aethalionidae) on Bauhinia forficata (Fabaceae: Caesalpinoideae) in a Brazilian savanna. Sociobiology, 59: 407-414.

Breed, M.D., Cook, C. & Krasnec, M.O. (2012). Cleptobiosis in Social Insects. Psyche, 484765. doi:10.1155/2012/484765

de Souza, M. M., Louzada, J., Eduardo Serráo, J. & Cola Zanuncio, J. (2010). Social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) as indicators of conservation degree of riparian forests in Southeast Brazil. Sociobiology, 56: 387-396.

Del-Claro, K. & Oliveira, P. S. (1999). Ant-homoptera interactions in a neotropical savanna: the honeydew-producing treehopper, Guayaquila xiphias (Membracidae), and its associated ant fauna on Didymopanax vinosum (Araliaceae). Biotropica, 31: 135-144. doi: 10.2307/2663967

Del-Claro, K. & Oliveira, P.S. (2000) Conditional outcomes in a neotropical treehopper-ant association: temporal and species-specific variation in ant protection and homopteran fecundity. Oecologia, 124:156–165. doi:10.1007/s004420050002

Del-Claro, K., Rico-Gray, V., Torezan-Silingardi, H. M., Alves-Silva, E., Fagundes, R., Lange, D., ... & Rodriguez-Morales, D. (2016). Loss and gains in ant–plant interactions mediated by extrafloral nectar: fidelity, cheats, and lies. Insectes Sociaux, 63: 207-221. doi:10.1007/s00040-016-0466-2

Grangier, J. & Lester, P.J. (2011). A novel interference behaviour: invasive wasps remove ants from resources and drop them from a height. Biology Letters, rsbl20110165. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0165

Kaminski, L. A., Mota, L. L., Freitas, A. V. & Moreira, G. R. (2013). Two ways to be a myrmecophilous butterfly: natural history and comparative immature‐stage morphology of two species of Theope (Lepidoptera: Riodinidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108: 844-870. doi: 10.1111/bij.12014

Letourneau, D. K. & Choe, J. C. (1987). Homopteran attendance by wasps and ants: the stochastic nature of interactions. Psyche, 94: 81-91.

MacCarroll, M. A. & Reeves, W. K. (2004). Attendance of Aetalion reticulatum (Hemiptera: Aetalionidae) by Polistes erythrocephalus (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Peru. Entomological News, 115: 52-53.

Oda, F. H., Aoki, C., Oda, T. M., da Silva, R. A. & Felismino, M. F. (2009). Interação entre abelha Trigona hyalinata (Lepeletier, 1836)(Hymenoptera: Apidae) e Aethalion reticulatum Linnaeus, 1767 (Hemiptera: Aethalionidae) em Clitoria fairchildiana Howard (Papilionoideae). Entomobrasilis, 2: 58-60.

Oda, F. H., de Oliveira, A. F. & Aoki, C. (2014). Oxytrigona tataira (Smith)(Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponini) as a collector of honeydew from Erechtia carinata (Funkhouser)(Hemiptera: Membracidae) on Caryocar brasiliense Cambessèdes (Malpighiales: Caryocaraceae) in the Brazilian Savanna. Sociobiology, 61: 566-569.

Stadler, B. & Dixon, A. F. (2005). Ecology and evolution of aphid-ant interactions. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 36: 345-372. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.36.091704.175531

Stefani, V., Pires, T. L., Torezan-Silingardi, H. M. & Del-Claro, K. (2015). Beneficial effects of ants and spiders on the reproductive value of Eriotheca gracilipes (Malvaceae) in a tropical savanna. PloS One, 10: e0131843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131843

Styrsky, J. D. & Eubanks, M. D. (2007). Ecological consequences of interactions between ants and honeydew-producing insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 274: 151-164. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2006.3701

Vieira, C. U., Rodovalho, C. D. M., Almeida, L. O., Siqueroli, A. C. S. & Bonetti, A. M. (2007). Interação entre Trigona spinipes Fabricius 1793 (Hymenoptera: Apidae) e Aethalion reticulatum Linnaeus 1767 (Hemiptera: Aethalionidae) em Mangifera indica (Anacardiaceae). Bioscience Journal, 23: 10-13.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.504