Ant membracid interaction on three membracids, viz., Leptocentrus taurus, Otinotus oneratus and Oxyrhachis taranda of their respective host plants, viz., Zizyphus jujuba, Tamarindus indica and Prosopis spicegera were studied by field observations. The nymphs showed a strong myrmecophilous mutualism when they were regularly attended by the ants. A mean number of 78 Leptocentrus taurus nymphs were attended by the ant species Formicaria brynnea and its ant attendance was 92.8%. In Otinotus oneratus, a mean number of 84 nymphs were attended by Componatus compressus ants, with an ant attendance of was 87.5%. Whereas, Oxyrhachis taranda, 68 mean number of nymphs when attended by Componatus compressus ants, recorded ant attendance of 54.8%. The survival value of membracids nymphs was enhanced by the ant attendance. The results revealed that practically no nymphal mortality occurred in all the three membracids which had access to ants, and all the nymphs survived and became adults. The presence of ants, increased the survival rate of the membracid nymphs and decreased its mortality rate, and their survival rate by the presence and absence of ants was 67.14% and 38.88% for Leptocentrus taurus, 63.01% and 39.44% in Otinotus oneratus, and 76.78% and 35.48% in Oxyrhachis taranda respectively. The behaviour of the ants to the three membracid nymphs showed that the demand for the honey dew on the nymphs was not persistent but intermittent, and allowed sufficient interval for the fluid secretion. The ants actively moved back and forth among the nymphs, tickled the nymphs and made them eject the drop of anal fluid, pressed its mouth onto the drop, gripped it and moved away.
Research Article | Published online : 16-Aug-2022