SPECIES: Myrmecodia beccarii — Ant Plant


The Ant Plant is an ephiphyte myrmecophyte. That is, a plant that lives harmlessly on another plant and in mutualistic association with a colony of ants.

The Ant Plant is found in coastal woodland and mangroves in the wet tropics of Queensland. They have short, bulb-like stems with many natural holes. Golden Ants live within the smooth-walled tunnels of the plant. There is a third player in this micro-ecosystem: the Apollo Jewel Butterfly also relies on the Ant Plant, as it lays its eggs on the plant.

So unique is this relationship between the Golden Ants and The Apollo Jewel Butterfly, the ants carry the butterfly eggs into the chambers of the plant where they will develop into butterflies. Quite fascinating.

Under threat largely by habitat loss, invasive weeds and removal of these special plants by humans from where they naturally occur.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons CC2.0

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