Acropyga epedana
Arizona, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2005

A young queen Acropyga carrying a mealybug in her mandibles.  Acropyga ants feed on secretions by root-feeding mealybugs, and the mealybugs depend on the ants for dispersal and protection.  When young queen ants leave the nest to mate and start new colonies, they carry their nest-founding mealybug with them.

USA AZ Cochise Co.: Southwestern Research Station, Chiricahua Mtns., 7km WSW Portal
1650m 31º53´N 109º12´W 
6.viii.2005 Oak-Juniper Woodland.
#AW2642, voucher specimens deposited at ALWC.

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS D60, with a Canon 65/2.8 MPE 1-5x Macro lens.