Re: Farming lerps

Subject: Re: Farming lerps
From: WM James Davis <>
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 07:00:49 +1000 (EST)
> Paul Osborn (I think) said that Common My
as  'actively 'farm' lerps, 
> which feed on
> > > the leaves of Eucalyptus and secrete a sugary substance for the birds.
> > > In return the lerps receive protection from the small insectivorous
> > > birds that eat them.'
> What is meant by 'actively farming lerps'?


"Actively farming" could refer to several things:  

 1) protection of the lerps from other birds that would eat 
    the small sugar screting organisms or

 2) collection by Bell Miners (not Common Mynas to my knowledge) of 
    the 'sugarly substances' secreted by the lerps without killing the
    lerps.  In effect, the miners are 'milking' the lerps on a
    semi-routine basis, hence the reference to farming.

The interaction between Bell Miners and Lerps is possible because miners
form stable, large colonies that remain at one location.  The lerps
feeding on the trees hence recieve constant protection (and miners
receive a steady supply of food). Although this arrangement seems to
benefit the miners and the lerps, it has been suggested, after several
field studies, that the lerps are slowly killing the trees.  Also
some birdwatchers are unhappy with the fact that most other birds are
chased out of the area occuppied by the Bell Miners.  BTW Noisy Miner will
also chase birds out of their 'territory' althhough N. Miner don't farm

I hope this helps.

Cheers, Jim Davis

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