Milking aphids, I had never heard of them, until Schorelaar wrote a blog somewhere last year in which she described this phenomenon. You can find the blog HERE (opens in a new window).
When I was taking pictures of our poppy this afternoon I noticed that there were a lot of ants in the poppy. When I looked a little better (helped by my macro-objective) I saw that the ants were all running towards the aphids, and running around. And then the blog of Schorelaar came to mind: this is milking aphids! You understand: I had a purpose: this had to be in the picture...
The poppy, and especially the buds, are full of aphid. The lice sucks juice from the buds, from which they live. Some pieces look really black!
When I looked a little closer, several ants were crawling over the lice, and sometimes I saw an aphid producing a drop of moisture, which an ant immediately stewed at:
Apparently, that transparent stuff is irresistible to the ants... they even fight for it!
One by one, all aphids are tapped, as if the ant asks if he wants to release liquid. Sometimes that doesn't happen directly... and there's a drop for a moment:
I can tell you: the ant is faster with the slurping than I can press the shutter button on my camera!
What a collaboration in nature: one's waste is the other's bread.
By the way, I also witnessed a brutal murder: