Formica - Alex Wild Photography
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A number of plant species have come to depend on ants to disperse their seeds.  To entice the ants, the seeds have a tasty, lipid-rich structure called an elaiosome at one end, and the ants carry the seed along when then take the elaiosome back to their nest. Here, a Formica exsectoides mound ant has found the seeds of leafy spurge, an invasive pest plant whose spread might be facilitated by ants.

Wisconsin, USA

A number of plant species have come to depend on ants to disperse their seeds. To entice the ants, the seeds have a tasty, lipid-rich structure called an elaiosome at one end, and the ants carry the seed along when then take the elaiosome back to their nest. Here, a Formica exsectoides mound ant has found the seeds of leafy spurge, an invasive pest plant whose spread might be facilitated by ants. Wisconsin, USA

Formicaformica exsectoidesformicinaeformicidaeantsinsectsinsectfield antallegheny mound antselaiosomemyrmecochoryant plant interactionsseed dispersalleafy spurgeinvasive plantsinvasive specieselaiosomes