1 Tahrcountry Musings: The Ants and The Butterflies – Fascinating Facts

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Ants and The Butterflies – Fascinating Facts

The latest issue of science has some interesting facts about relationship between butterflies and ants in Denmark. In parts of Denmark, the Alcon blue butterfly caterpillars feed within ant colonies. The caterpillar, which later develops into a large blue butterfly, mimics the surface hydrocarbons, the surface chemicals that the ants have on their own brood. The caterpillars first start developing on a food plant, but after they reach a certain stage they leave the food plant and wait on the ground to be discovered by these ants. Adult ants think the caterpillar is one of their young. The authors believe that the butterfly and ants are engaged in a kind of coevolutionary arms race. This parasitism by caterpillars sometimes wipes out entire ant colony. But other times, ants are able to recognize the caterpillars as invaders and kill them. If you are keen about details look it up in Science

A Mosaic of Chemical Coevolution in a Large Blue Butterfly

David R. Nash,1* Thomas D. Als,2 Roland Maile,3 Graeme R. Jones,3 Jacobus J. Boomsma1

1 Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark.
2 Department of Genetics and Ecology, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark.
3 School of Chemistry, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK.

Science 4 January 2008:
Vol. 319. no. 5859, pp. 88 - 90
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149180

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