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Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants


Typically found in groups, members of the Family Aphididae aphids are soft-bodied, range in color from light yellow to dark grey, and may occasionally be winged. While most aphids measure around 2mm in length, the largest known species, Tuberolachnus salignus the willow aphidcan grow to just under 6mm long.

Aphids feed by extracting the sugary liquids from the phloem tissues of suitable plants through a hardened stylet; excess sugars are then excreted in the form of honeydew, a favored treat of ants, wasps, and other insects. Both the feeding process and the excretion of honeydew by encouraging mold growth can be destructive to plants, earning Aphididae a rather poor reputation among gardeners. Aphid sexuality is quite complex, including both asexual reproduction concluding with live birth and sexual reproduction concluding with egg laying.

In spring, when hatching occurs, all emerging aphids Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants female and reproduce asexually, essentially giving birth to three or more clones of themselves every day. As the end of summer approaches, the reproductive strategy of aphids in climates with cold winters shifts and both males and females are produced. After mating, the sexually reproductive females deposit eggs in the protective crevices of plants; safe from harsh winter weather, these eggs hatch the following spring and the cycle begins anew.

Aphids have a number of natural predators, including green lacewings, parasitic wasps, and the ever popular lady beetle.

Aphid defenses range from waxy, thread-like shells to the storage and release of harsh chemicals derived from plants on which the aphids feed. There are many thousands of species of aphids around the world, and there are probably around species in Michigan. Adult aphids with wings are so small they can float on the wind, and be carried long distances.

Aphids are very small only a few millimeters longsoft-bodied insects. They have two little tubes at the end of the abdomen called cornicles. They have small eyes, and sucking mouthparts.


They are often green, but may be red, black or brown. They move slowly, and don't jump or hop.

Physical Description

They usually have fairly long antennae. Aphids are almost always found on or near their food plants. If they can they sometimes hide in the curls of leaves. Anywhere there are plants there are aphids.

They suck plant juices out of the leaves, stems, or roots of plants. The juices they drink often have much more sugar than protein. Aphids have to drink so much sugary juice to get enough protein that they excrete a lot of the sugar.

They don't need it. The sugary fluid they excrete is called "honeydew", and many other insects feed on it. Aphids are important enemies of plants, and are food for many small insects and other invertebrates. Some ants feed on the sugar excreted by the aphids. They protect the aphids, and sometimes even keep them in their nests for the winter and put them on new plants in the spring. Aphids hide, and if they detect a predator, they produce a chemical that warns other aphids who smell it.

They try to walk or fly away. Some aphids produce chemicals that taste bad, or grow waxy threads that make them hard to eat. Aphids have incomplete metamorphosis: Aphids often have complicated life cycles: But as the season progresses, some produce sons and daughters that have wings, and these mya fly to new or different food plants.

They mate and produce eggs that survive the winter and hatch the next spring. The hatchlings may reproduce without mating, and then their offspring move back to the original host plant species. Aphids often have two different kinds of "Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants." At certain times of year, females give birth to live females not eggswithout mating.

After a few generations of this, they produce offspring who grow up to be winged, and must mate to reproduce. They often fly to new host plant species, mate there and lay eggs.

Aphids can reproduce amazingly fast. If the temperature is right and the there is plenty of food, they can produce several offspring every days for several weeks, and these offspring can mature and start reproducing in a week. Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants are one of the worst groups of pests on plants. They damage plants directly by feeding on them, and they also carry plant diseases from plant to plant.

There can be millions and millions of aphids in a farmer's fields. Aphidsalso known as plant lice and in Britain and the Commonwealth as greenfliesblackfliesor whiteflies not to be confused with " jumping plant lice " or true whiteflies are small sap-sucking insectsand members of the superfamily Aphidoidea.

About 4, species are known, all included in the family Aphididae. They vary in length from 1 to 10 millimetres 0. Natural enemies include predatory ladybirdshoverfly larvae, parasitic waspsaphid midge larvaecrab spiderslacewingsand entomopathogenic fungi such as Lecanicillium lecanii and the Entomophthorales. Aphids are distributed worldwide, but are most common in temperate zones. In contrast to many taxaaphid species diversity is much lower in the tropics than in the temperate zones.

They can migrate great distances, mainly through passive dispersal by riding on winds. For example, the currant lettuce aphid, Nasonovia ribisnigriis believed to have spread from New Zealand to Tasmania in this way. Aphids are in the superfamily Aphidoidea in the Sternorrhyncha division of the order Hemiptera. Late 20th-century reclassification within the Hemiptera reduced the old taxon "Homoptera" to two Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants Early 21st-century reclassifications substantially rearranged the families within Aphidoidea: The most recent authoritative classifications place all extant taxa into a single large family Aphididae.

Aphids, adelgidsand phylloxerids are very closely related, and Advantages of asexual reproduction in aphids and ants all within the suborder Sternorrhynchathe plant-sucking bugs. They are either placed in the insect superfamily Aphidoidea [ 5 ] or into the superfamily Phylloxeroidea which contains the family Adelgidae and the family Phylloxeridae.

Like aphids, phylloxera feed on the roots, leaves, and shoots of grape plants, but unlike aphids, do not produce honeydew or cornicle secretions. Similarly, adelgids also feed on plant phloem. Adelgids are sometimes described as aphids, but are more properly classified as aphid-like insects, because they have no cauda or cornicles.

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