The black garden ant is often seen on plants.
So are aphids.
Aphids are considered a pest to many plants because they pierce the plant leaves and suck out the nutrients. As a result, the aphids expel a sweet and sticky residue called honeydew.
Ants need constant energy from an available food source, and in this case, that food source is honeydew. Plant pollen sticks to the honeydew on the ant, which in turn is carried by the ant to the next flower, assisting the rhododendron (seen above) in pollination. Also known as symbiosis.
Ants are farmers of other insects, which include aphids.
For example, some species of ants will protect aphids from predators and shelter them in their nests from heavy rain storms in order to consume the honeydew the aphids produce. Some ants will even store aphid eggs in their colonies over the Winter and return the newly hatched aphids to the plants in the Spring.
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Order: Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
Family: Ants (Formicidae)