Hypnotic black-white eyes; blue femurs; deep copper-blue-bronze patina through dark gloss; white patches on either shoulder and on either flank; attended and groomed by mid-sized, unknown local ant species.
Eucalyptus trees; south-east coastal open forests, Australia.
The ants seem particularly busy at the rear end of the hopper in pic 2. This is where the reward lies for the ants. The ants in return provide protection and cleaning services for eggs, nymphs and adults. Who is controlling who? Pic 4 shows two different stage nymphs. This would appear to be an adult male and the blue colouring might be partly attributable to brochosomes. These are tiny geodetic spherical structures ( bit like Buckminster fullerenes ) which are only known produced by these creatures. They produce them internally and after moulting, excrete some through their anus, spreading it all over their body in a grooming session. The resulting coating looks and behaves like a wax which protects the insect from the sticky sugary substances it makes later to feed the ants. they Read about these fascinating compounds here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brochosome ..There are also suggestions that some species might use the brochosomes to protect their eggs.