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Honeydew - Role Reversal …is it?


Looks like winter has stayed back a little longer this year and perhaps took Kolkata in a panic mode. People here are famous to cover up from head to heel with even the slightest of fog blurring up their vision. This is a point of joke for sure to the people from other cities in India. They say at any tourist place, a bong can easily be identified by their monkey caps and a camera hung around their neck. Whatever it was, the holidays at school during this winter vacation was surely a motivating factor for me to visit the South Bengal forests once again.

Packing up my gears, I headed for my favorite hunting ground on a shooting spree. No need to be scared, I don’t shoot with a gun. My gear set up is powerful enough to shoot my favorite subjects – insects and their magical world of wonders. South Bengal forests have never disheartened me. With its unique bio-diversity and yet untouched expanse of greens, it has ample of species to offer me for studies.

The morning was chilly and though I was eager to reach the forests early, I could make it only by late morning. The sun was highand the tick-tock of my wristwatch showed that it was nearing almost noon. The dew had long dried up and I stamped past the dry grass, walking along a small pond into the nearby bamboo growth, with an urge to capture something new this time. A little deep inside the bamboo growth, at about a level of three feet from the ground, a group of ants caught my attention. They had huddled at a joint on the thin bamboo twig. They seemed busy sucking onto the sweet sap from the point, which would have given rise to a new bamboo leaf. Trying to focus on them, I had to touch the twig for better positioning. With the slightest of the vibrations, the group must have felt threatened. Three came crawling towards me while two went the other way. Very gently, I left the thin twig to its natural place as the three ants were very close to my hand and I had no intention to disturb them. To my surprise, this little one, lost from all the commotion that I may have caused, seemed extremely engrossed into the sap. It was not bothered of my presence or the focus of my lens. It kept drinking to its full while I was busy shooting. Focusing that small ant single handedly was tough and repeatedly I failed. Finally, I sat on the wet soil, took a very uncommon posture for few seconds, and crazily pressed my shutter thrice.

Upon returning home, while I wanted to have a sneak peek into my days shoot, I get this capture that leaves me a bit flabbergasted. Can you guess why? If you look closely, you would see a drop of liquid on the extreme appendage of the ant. My vast field experience says that the aphids(a type of small insect)suck in sweet sap from the plants and when their mouthpart penetrates the plant, the sugary, high-pressure liquid is secreted out of the aphid body. They are known as honeydew. The ants and certain other species of insects like wasps and honeybees then suck in this honeydew. The aphids share a symbiotic relationship with the ants. The ants protect the aphids in their natural habitat in exchange of honeydew.

But here it was something different that I had captured. This seemed like a secretion from the ant itself. It wasn’t dew for sure as it was almost noon. I am still amused and searching for a proper clarity. Leaving it open to all my readers here...would love if anyone would help me with a better understanding…!!!


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