Aphids, bark lice, and scale bugs are bred and reared by ants.
The normally carnivorous ants protect, groom, and care for these bugs as we do farm animals.
Why are these garden pests so valuable to ants?
They want their “milk” an excreted honeylike sub stance called honeydew.
This may sound odd, but if you consider the ant’s habitat, it makes perfect sense.
Food runs out from time to time when you have thousands, sometimes millions, of mouths to feed, so these bugs provide an ant colony with a ready food source.
If the colony sets up a few good cowboy ants to tend herds of li’l ant cattle, there’s a guaranteed supply of food when other pickin’s get slim.
In exchange, the ants protect the insects from other bugs that will eat them.
Ants are so protective, they will carry them in their jaws like a mother cat with kittens when rain comes, then carry them back to their plant again afterward.
Ants are also known enslavers. Some ant species will take over another colony and make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Ownership of the aphids, lice, or scale bugs of the enslaved colony also gets transferred with the hostile takeover.