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Posts Tagged ‘ants’

Milkweed (members of the genus Asclepias) flowers are unique and fascinating structures that attract a myriad of insect pollinators. The insects are rewarded with sweet nectar that milkweed flowers produce in copious amounts. Yet, insects sometimes cannot pull free from the nectar trough and perish in the grips of the milkweed flower.

Asclepias tuberosa butterfly weed w spicebush swallowtail

Butterfly weed, true to its name, with a spicebush swallowtail butterfly

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Jeffersonia diphylla seeds with elaiosomes

Seeds with elaiosomes

In my previous post, on twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), I discussed that twinleaf’s seeds have appendages called elaiosomes that are attractive to ants. Ants carry the seeds back to their nests, remove the elaiosomes to feed to their larvae, and deposit the unharmed seeds in a waste area of the nest. The seeds are in an ideal, protected location which helps them to germinate. This dispersal of seeds by ants is called myrmecochory, from the Greek for ant (myrmex) and dispersal (kore).

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