Description of plant-animal interaction around the passiflora vine. Morning hours before the flowers open.
Ants defend extrafloral nectaries (nectar produced in organs other than flowers) of a passion flower vine against herbivores. This is an example of plant-animal interaction evolved in at least three levels.
 Extrafloral nectaries seen in this video resemble butterfly eggs. Butterflies avoid laying their eggs on host plants if they see other eggs. This is particularly true for two species of butterflies Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) and Variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia). caterpillars of these butterflies are cannibalistic. Passion flower therefore protects itself by visual trickery. Fooling herbivores by egg mimicry.
 Extrafloral nectaries attract ants. Ants are very efficient in exploiting and defending resources. Therefore Passion flower achieves another layer of protection against herbivores especially against the ones coming to eat reproductive flower parts.
 Ants are everywhere. Extrafloral nectaries distract ants away from the flowers so that pollinators can have better access.
To see the first episode in this series please go to:
Red-footed cannibal fly (Promachus rufipes):
Red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops):
The eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica):