Itís 2:45 a.m. and I canít sleep; thoughts of the declining economy and world affairs just keep rolling around in my head like a batch of bad salsa. For some reason, the whole thing brings aphids to mind. Itís well known that the mind of a woman is a twisty, convoluted thing at times, but hold on for a bit and you may get the connection.
Thereís a type of aphid called an ant cow. It sucks sap and poops out honeydew. Ants really like that stuff Ė so much that they actually keep the ant cows in their nests, protect them, nurture their young, and cart them off to new plants when theyíve sucked up most of the sap at the old one. Then, in a weird parody of dairy farming, they tickle the abdomens of the aphids until they spew more honeydew so the ants can eat it. The ant cows don't seem to mind, in fact, they seem to enjoy it.
It occurred to me that the Irritation Response Specialists among the ants are very much like their counterparts in human society. Non-producing aphids are not nurtured or protected, and in fact, may be eaten by the ants.
This brings us to another correlation. Self sufficient aphids that prefer to suck only as much sap as they actually need, try to be self-sufficient, and resist being a part of the ant colony are very much in danger from the Irritation Response Specialists. As long as there are sufficient ant cows to sustain the ant colony, maybe the IRS will leave the maverick aphids alone. We can only hope!