But when it comes to finding something to drink, they're all about milking the living. Their favorite cow is the leafhopper, an insect famous for ... well, hopping. But also for regularly getting wrangled up by the big tough meat ants and harvested for butt residue. The hoppers produce a sweet resin that the ants just adore, both for consumption and for food preservation. In return for the never-ending butt-ffet, the ants offer protection from predators who value the leafhoppers less for their resin and more for their crunchy, yummy bodies.
If need be, the ants will actually carry the leafhopper (or any other sweet-pooping insect it might rustle up with its metaphorical lasso) away to safety so the two can coexist more peacefully.
"I can show you the world. Shining, shimmering, splendid."
The hoppers are so dependent on their masters for survival, they might not even mind the ants turning them into steak once the drink finally runneth dry.
Potter Wasps Have Guard Mites for Their Babies
Potter wasps are terrible abominations of nature, so much so that even other wasps want to harm them. This makes for a hard life, especially when the wasp is trying to be a good parent and not get its kids mutilated or eaten. To protect the little devils (literally -- these are wasps, after all), the parents have enlisted the aid of an unlikely ally: mites.
UniversitÃ¤t Ulm, Ruhr-UniversitÃ¤t Bochum
We'll pause while you scratch.
In general, mites suck. They'll infest anything that can even begin to promise food. In response, potter wasps put the freeloading little bastards to work as babysitters. After being deposited into a wasp's nest, the mites hang around, share the babies' food, and stand guard. Whenever some nasty intruder wasp shows up to wreak havoc in the nursery and redefine "baby food" in the worst possible way, the mites respond by bum-rushing the interloper and biting the ever-loving shit out of it.
The mites don't harm their masters' children and are rewarded for their service with their very own doggy carrying cases -- potter wasps have actually evolved pockets in their bodies, called acarinaria, specifically designed to carry new mites to the nest so that they may get to work.
Kimiko Okabe/Science News
That's like growing a second set of genitals just for your scabies.
And the wasp moms have to be precise: Too few of the mites, and the attackers will merrily eat the wasp babies. Too many, and the mites will eat all the food and let the children starve to death. Not that we care because, again, fuck wasps.
E. Reid Ross is a columnist at Man Cave Daily. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.
Related: Curious about just what adorable animals could kick your ass? Check out this Cracked video. And did you know prairie dogs are talking to you personally? It's truly a magical world, and even the most terrifying animals wind up containing some life-saving cure.