PARASITE: One living thing takes advantage of another, using a host for “personal” gain.
SYMBIOTE: One living thing works with another in a mutually beneficial relationship.
APHIDS: Aphids are small sap-sucking insects, and members of the superfamily Aphidoidea. Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants in temperate regions. The damage they do to plants has made them enemies of farmers and gardeners the world over, though from a zoological standpoint they are a highly successful group of organisms. Their success is due in part to the asexual reproductive capabilities of some species. About 4,400 species are known, all included in the family Aphididae. Around 250 species are serious pests for agriculture and forestry as well as an annoyance for gardeners. They vary in length from 1 to 10 millimetres (0.04 to 0.39 in). Ants and aphids share a well-documented relationship of mutualism. Ants feed on the sugary honeydew left behind by aphids. In exchange, the ants protect the aphids from predators and parasites. In fact, honey ants will go to unusual lengths to ensure the health of the aphids in their care.
DEVIL’S GARDEN: In forest ecology, a devil's garden is a large stand of trees in the Amazon Rainforest consisting almost exclusively of a single species, Duroia hirsuta. Devil's gardens are immediately recognizable because the dominance of a single tree species is dramatically different from the biodiversity of the forest as a whole. Devil’s gardens got their name because locals believed that an evil forest spirit Chullachaki (meaning "uneven foot, single foot" in Kichwa) lived in them. The ant Myrmelachista schumanni creates devil's gardens by systematically poisoning all plants in the vicinity except D. hirsuta, the tree in which it nests. The ant poisons the plants by injecting formic acid into the base of the leaf. By killing other plants, the ant promotes the growth and reproduction of D. hirsuta, which has hollow stems that provide nest sites for the ants; A single ant colony might have more than 3 million workers and 15,000 queens, and may persist for more than 800 years. Although the ants fend off herbivores, the size of the garden is restricted by leaf destruction increasing as it expands, as the ants are unable to defend the trees beyond a certain point.
GALL WASPS: Gall wasps, also called gallflies, are a family (Cynipidae) of the order Hymenoptera and are classified with the Apocrita suborder of wasps in the superfamily Cynipoidea. Their common name comes from the galls they induce on plants for larval development. About 1300 species of this generally very small creature (1-8 mm) are known worldwide, with about 360 species of 36 different genera in Europe and some 800 species in North America.
FEATHER-LEGGED ASSASSIN BUG
GALLS: Galls are outgrowths on the surface of lifeforms. Plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues, similar to benign tumors or warts in animals. They can be caused by various parasites, from fungi and bacteria, to insects and mites. Plant galls are often highly organized structures and because of this the cause of the gall can often be determined without the actual agent being identified. This applies particularly to some insect and mite plant galls. The study of plant galls is known as Cecidology.
KNOPPER GALLS: Knopper galls develop as a chemically induced distortion of growing acorns on pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) trees, caused by gall wasps, which lay eggs in buds with their ovipositor. The gall thus produced can greatly reduce the fecundity of the oak host, making this gall potentially more of a threat to the reproductive ability of the tree than those that develop on leaves, buds, stems, etc. The Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris L.), introduced into Britain in 1735, is required for the completion of the life cycle of the gall. The knopper is a recent introduction to the British Isles, first arriving in the 1960s and now found throughout England, Wales and as far north as Scotland; first occurring for example in 2007 at Eglinton Country Park in North Ayrshire.
CRAB SPIDERS: Crab spider is a common name applied loosely to many species of spiders, but most nearly consistently to members of the family Thomisidae. Among the Thomisidae it refers most often to the familiar species of "flower crab spiders", though not all members of the family are limited to ambush hunting in flowers. Rationalization for the name crab spider is generally subjective and anecdotal. It is commonly said to refer to a fancied resemblance to crabs, or to the way such spiders hold their two front pairs of legs, or their ability to scuttle sideways or backwards. Some spiders so called have bodies that are flattened and angular. At all events, the Thomisidae are the family most generally referred to as "crab spiders.” Thomisidae do not build webs to trap prey, though all of them produce silk for drop lines and sundry reproductive purposes; some are wandering hunters and the most widely known are ambush predators. Some species sit on or beside flowers or fruit, where they grab visiting insects. Individuals of some species are able to change color over a period of some days, to match the flower on which they are sitting. Some species frequent promising positions among leaves or bark, where they await prey, and some of them will sit in the open, where they are startlingly good mimics of bird droppings.
DIGGER BEE: One interesting group of North American bees nest in soil, the digger bees (Family: Anthropodidae). These are solitary bees that individually rear their young within the soil tunnels they construct. Such nesting is restricted to only certain sites found to be optimal, based on features such as slope, aspect, soil type and drainage. As a result they often appear to occur in "colonies," often numbering hundreds. In these colonies, each female is hard at work digging out the nest cells and collecting pollen for her young, often in very close proximity to many others, giving the appearance of a nest. However, digger bees do not have a social structure, as do honeybees or social wasps such as yellowjackets. The digger bees are also very non-aggressive and will not sting unless handled or trapped in clothing. Even then, their sting is reported to be much milder than that of a honeybee or yellowjacket. Male bees cannot sting at all.
BOTFLY: Botflies deposit eggs on a host, or sometimes use an intermediate vector such as the common housefly, mosquitoes, and even a species of tick (Dermatobia hominis). The smaller fly is firmly held by the botfly female and rotated to a position where the botfly attaches some 30 eggs to the body under the wings. Larvae from these eggs, stimulated by the warmth and proximity of a large mammal host, drop onto its skin and burrow underneath. Intermediate vectors are often used since a number of animal hosts recognise the approach of a botfly and flee. Eggs are deposited on animal skin directly, or the larvae hatch and drop from the eggs attached to the intermediate vector: the body heat of the host animal induces hatching upon contact or immediate proximity. Some forms of botfly also occur in the digestive tract after ingestion by licking. Myiasis can be caused by larvae burrowing into the skin (or tissue lining) of the host animal. Mature larvae drop from the host and complete the pupal stage in soil. They do not kill the host animal, thus are true parasites.
FYI: Myiasis is the parasitic infestation of the body of a live mammal by fly larvae (maggots) that grow inside the host while feeding on its tissue. Although flies are most commonly attracted to open wounds and urine- or feces-soaked fur, some species (including the most common myiatic flies, the botfly, blowfly and screwfly) can create an infestation even on unbroken skin and have even been known to use moist soil and non-myiatic flies (such as the common housefly) as vector agents for their parasitic larvae.
ORCHARD SPIDER: The orchard spider (Leucauge venusta) is a long-jawed orbweaver spider that occurs from southern Canada to Colombia, along the East coast, reaching into the central US. The web is often oriented horizontally, with the spider hanging down in the center. It is distinctively colored, with leaf-green legs and sides (which can sometimes vary to a dark green or even orange). The underside of its thorax is spotted with yellow and black, the top is silvery with brown and black streaks. The neon yellow, orange or red spots on the rear of the abdomen are variable in size among individuals and sometimes absent. This species is parasitized by a wasp larva which attaches itself externally at the junction of the cephalothorax and abdomen.
TIGER BEETLES: Tiger beetles are a large group of beetles known for their aggressive predatory habits and running speed. The fastest species of tiger beetle can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph), or about 53.87 body lengths per second. As of 2005, about 2,600 species and subspecies were known. Several species of wingless parasitic METHOCA WASPS in the genus Methocha (family Tiphiidae), lay their eggs on larvae of various tiger beetle species, such as Cicindela dorsalis.
ALCON BLUE BUTTERFLIES: Alcon Blue or Alcon Large Blue is a butterfly of the Lycaenidae family and is found in Europe and Northern Asia. It can be seen flying in mid to late summer. Like some other species of Lycaenidae, its larva (caterpillar) stage depends on support by certain ants; it is therefore known as a myrmecophile. The butterfly lays its eggs onto the Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe); in the region of the Alps they are sometimes also found on the related Willow Gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea. The caterpillars eat no other plants.
Alcon larvae leave the food plant when they have grown sufficiently and wait on the ground below to be discovered by ants. The larvae emit surface chemicals (allomones) that closely match those of ant larvae, causing the ants to carry the Alcon larvae into their nests and place them in their brood chambers, where they are fed by worker ants and where they devour ant larvae. When the Alcon larva is fully developed, it pupates. Once the adult hatches it must run the gauntlet of escaping. The ants recognize the butterfly to be an intruder, but when they go to attack it with their jaws they can't grab anything substantial as the newly emerged adult butterfly is thickly clothed in loosely attached scales. Over time, some ant colonies that are parasitized in this manner will slightly change their larva chemicals as a defense, leading to an evolutionary "arms race" between the two species. [Myrmecophily (literally "ant-love") is the term applied to interspecies associations between ants and a variety of other organisms such as plants, other arthropods, and fungi. Myrmecophily refers to mutualistic associations with ants, though in its more general use the term may also refer to parasitic interactions. The term myrmecophile is used mainly for animals that associate with ants.]
ICHNEUMON WASP: The Ichneumonidae are insects most commonly called ichneumon wasps. Ichneumon wasps are important parasitoids of other insects, including the social wasp Vespula acadica. Common hosts are larvae and pupae of Coleoptera (beetles), Hymenoptera (bees and ants), and Lepidoptera (butterflies). Some species of ichneumon wasps lay their eggs in the ground, but most inject them directly into a host's body, typically into a larva or pupa. Ichneumonidae is one of the largest families of organisms in the world—it contains an estimated 100,000 species, more species than all vertebrates combined.