Most ants are generalist predators, scavengers, and indirect herbivores, but a few have evolved specialised ways of obtaining nutrition. It is believed that many ant species that engage in indirect herbivory rely on specialized symbiosis with their gut microbes and allow them to survive in nitrogen-poor regions, such as rainforest canopies.

Leafcutter ants feed exclusively on a fungus that grows only within their colonies. They continually collect leaves which are taken to the colony, cut into tiny pieces and placed in fungal gardens.

Aphids and other hemipteran insects secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew, when they feed on plant sap. The sugars in honeydew are a high-energy food source, which many ant species collect.

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