Crematogaster Ants on Whistling Thorn
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 23, 2010 1:25 pm
One of the favourite stories field guides love to tell guests here in Kenya is about the mutualistic relationship between Crematogaster sp. ants and the Whistling Thorn (Acacia drepanolobium). The tree provides a home for the ants in its bloated, hollow galls (see picture), and the ants provide protection from herbivores (often Giraffe) by attacking the herbivore when it comes to feed on the tree.
One just has to brush past the tree to get the ants excited and running around like crazy.
However, a while ago, I found a very interesting article showing that the relationship may not be completely mutualistic. Go to the following link and scroll down to the yellow box titled: ”Whistling Thorn Symbiosis May Be One-Sided” http://waynesword.palomar.edu/acacia.htm
Whatever the case, it’ll never cease to fascinate me!
Hi Again Zarek,
You sure are keeping us busy posting all of your awesome images from Kenya. Thanks for the image of the Crematogaster Ants as well as the link and the personal observations.