I had a head on collision with a Ladybug today as I was walked a field inspecting some electric fence. I stepped back watching as she flew off and landed on a dock plant near by. I leaned down to take a closer look as I saw all this black stuff on the stem of the dock plant she landed on.
Within moments of her landing she was surrounded, harassed and chased up the stem by lots of ants.
I then looked closer to the stem and realized the black stuff was in fact a colony of aphids who were being protected by the ants who in turn were feeding off the sugary excretions the aphids produced as protection money .
The ants even had lookouts on leafs away from the farming activity.
The Ladybug mean while had run up the dock plant stalk and sat tight on a leaf all legs tucked in with her armored shell keeping all ants at bay. I think she was waiting for the ants to leave and would return down the stalk for a feed when the coast was clear.
I’m sorry the images couldn’t be of better quality but I was using my iPhone and had to use my hand for the phone to focus on such slender and small things. At least my hands were quite clean which is often not the case when farming.