Do they have a snout? Maybe some kind of weevil? I have a picture somewhere of a hollyhock weevil. I'll post it in the database under hollyhock. They're distructive critters and spread disease. I also get them on some of my verbascums. I haven't found any ways to crotrol them other than picking them off the plants.
I didnt know those white bugs were ants, but if they are ants its most likely the other bugs are aphid, the ants harvest the sticky residue aphids make, they protect them from othere bugs too, so it sounds like it dave, aphids.
I'd say these are aphids, along with their keepers, the ants. Aphids come in various colours, depending on species and host plant. Ants "milk" the sweet excrements from aphids (you can actually watch them do that). Therefore they keep aphids like cattle and bring them to the best "meadows", young and fresh plants.
If you want to get rid of the aphids, wash them off with water or brush them off with a soft brush.