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Nectar secretion from damaged shoots in Quercus mongolica and exploitation of the response by ants; herbivory by ants

Nectar secretion from damaged shoots in Quercus mongolica and exploitation of the response by ants; herbivory by ants

Entomological Science ember 25; 5(3): 275-280

Field observations showed that when damaged by herbivores, developing leaves and shoot stems of Quercus mongolica secreted nectar from the wounds. Workers of the ants Lasius japonicus, L. fuliginosus, Formica japonica and F. yessensis visited Q. mongolica trees to collect nectar from herbivore damage during leaf development. This study examined whether nectar secretion from wounds is effective in deterring herbivory by attracting ants, predators to herbivores, to the wounds. On each of 58 young oak trees ant-access and ant-exclusion branches were prepared, and the area of leaves consumed by lepidopteran larvae was compared between these branches. Paired t-test indicated that ant visitation had no significant effect on preventing herbivory; rather, ants themselves damaged unfolding buds to absorb sugar in phloem sap. On young trees of Q. mongolica to a nest of L. fuliginosus, a group of workers destroyed some buds completely by nibbling them before bud burst. Lasius japonicus workers were observed nibbling the midribs of developing leaves, resulting in partial withering of the leaves. These results suggest that ant visitation could be costly to Q. mongolica when the density of ants is high.

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