Honey Ants are found in the Western Desert of Australia. They have adapted to their environment and developed an unusual method of storing food. The ants harvest honey dew, a by product of the digestion of Aphids. The Aphids suck the sap from trees and produce sweet honey dew liquid which they secrete. The ants use their antenna to stimulate the aphids to release this liquid. A symbiotic relationship has developed between the aphids and ants with the ants looking after the aphids in order to maintain their harvest of honeydew. The ants feed the excess honeydew to a special type of worker ant called repletes who stores the Honey Dew in their abdomens which can swell to the size of a small grape. The repletes hang from the ceiling of the hives underground and in times when food stores run low they are able to provide food for the colony. The Aboriginal tribes of the Western Desert dig into the ant colony’s to find the ants hive and to eat their honey, which is considered a delicacy.
Source: The insect world
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Sofia Martinez -Villalpando, BSc