AntWiki: The Ants --- Online

A Symbiosis is an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. Symbiotic relationships are common, diverse and rich among ants.

  • Mutualism is a form of symbiosis which is beneficial to both organisms involved.
  • Commensalism is an association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm.
  • Parasitism is a relationship between two species in which one benefits at the expense of the other, and may or may not include the killing of the exploited organism.

While these definitions appear definitive in reality the natural world is more complex. There are species of ants and their associates that can be placed into one of these categories but others seem to fall between one or another classification. Mealybugs for example may be protected in some seasons and eaten at other times. Thus these 3 categories can be seen as points within a multidimensional space rather than as exclusive and clearly defined end-points.

The following topics explore ant symbiotic relationships in further detail: