This morning I was picking through recent ant literature for a 2008 myrmecological retrospective post when I stumbled on this little gem.

Why do autumn leaves change to such striking colors?  Kazuo Yamazaki thinks it’s all about the ants:

Therefore, bright autumn leaves may have adaptive significance, attracting myrmecophilous specialist aphids and their attending ants and, thus, reducing herbivory and competition among aphids.

I hereby proclaim Kazuo Yamazaki the first recipient of an award in his own name, the Yamazaki “Going Way Out On A Limb” Award, for creative lateral thinking in proposing scientific hypotheses.

source: Yakazaki, K. 2008. Autumn leaf colouration: a new hypothesis involving plant-ant mutualism via aphids. Naturwissenschaften 95: 1432-1904.