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Myrmecotrophy is the ability of plants to obtain nutrients from ants, a form of mutualism. Due to this behaviour the invasion of vegetation into harsh environments is promoted.[1] The dead remains of insects thrown out by the ants are absorbed by the lenticular warts in myrmecophytes like Hydnophytum and Myrmecodia.[2] Myrmecodia uses its lenticular warts to suck nutrients from the insects thrown out by the ants. The ants in turn benefit with a secure location to form their colony.[1] The pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata obtains an estimated 42% of its total foliar nitrogen from ant waste.[3]


  1. ^ a b Narendra A and Kumar S. (2006) On Trail with Ants - A Handbook of the Ants of Peninsular India p53
  2. ^ Janzen DH. (1974) Epiphytic Myrmecophytes in Sarawak: Mutualism Through the Feeding of Plants by Ants. Biotropica 6, 237-259
  3. ^ Bazile, V., J.A. Moran, G. Le Moguédec, D.J. Marshall & L. Gaume (2012). A carnivorous plant fed by its ant symbiont: a unique multi-faceted nutritional mutualism. PLoS ONE 7(5): e36179. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036179