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Lesson 3: Teamwork

Adult Flatid Leaf-Bugs (Phromnia rosea) Preserve  Antsiranana, Northern Madagascar
Some insects travel in groups when searching for leaves to eat.

All these red flatid leaf bugs can cause a lot of damage to a tree. By itself, one insect cannot eat many leaves. But think about how many leaves thousands of insects can eat. A tree can die if the insects eat all of its leaves.
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These flatid leaf bugs like to stay together in large groups. These bugs have tiny bodies and very large wings. Their mouths are able to suck sap out of plants. Flatid leaf bugs don’t have wings when they are babies. Instead, their bodies are covered with a waxy substance that looks like long, wispy feathers. This makes it hard for birds to grab them and eat them.

Many rainforest plants and animals need each other to survive.

Some bats sleep on the tops of pitcher plants. The leaves of the plant help keep the bat safe. In return, the bats provide nutrition to the plant through their droppings.

Bats join together to form large groups called colonies. The colonies can live in the same place for months, and even years. Bats sleep close to one another to help keep each other warm. Bats also take care of each other. If one bat is sick, the others will bring food back for it to eat. Most bats prefer to live in caves, but you will not see many caves in the rainforest. Instead, bats might find a hollow of a tree to live in.
Army Ants on the Move
Ants live, work, and eat together.
Different species of ants make nests in different places. Some nest in dead trees or in the ground. The nests of the leafcutter ant can hold up to eight million ants. These huge nests can survive for as long as 20 years. Some ants live in their nests for only a short time. Army ants are always on the move and stay in one place for only about three weeks.

Antbirds rarely eat ants. Instead, they depend on the ants to help them find their food. The birds wait and watch above. Below them, huge swarms of army ants scurry across the forest floor looking for food. The birds then swoop down to eat the insects and reptiles trying to escape from the ants. Antbirds may also use ants to help them clean their bodies. Some antbirds will let ants crawl through their feathers. The ants will eat any parasites that they find.

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