I am having a bit of an aphid problem on a couple of cantaloupe plants and one watermelon plant, reminding me that aphids are kind of interesting. I guess it’s not the aphids themselves that are interesting; but, rather, their relationship with ants.
Aphids exude a sticky liquid which literature on the subject refers to as “honeydew”. Certain types of ants eat the honeydew and protect the aphids from predators, so as to protect their food source. The aphids are like the ants’ honeydew herd.
The ants here, at least the ones tending the aphids and which are by far the most plentiful, are very small, less than a quarter inch in length. They have paths that are like freeways, with ants moving in both directions from food source to nest; and the freeways have interchanges. It’s like Seattle or Tacoma rush hour traffic, but the ants are moving faster.
Aphids are fairly easy to control with a spray of water with a bit of mild soap mixed in. The soapy water works on the shepherd ants as well.