butrfly at butrfly at
Sat Feb 6 04:18:25 EST 1999

Pierre A Plauzoles wrote:
> In a previous article, MWalker at (Mark Walker) says:
> >I don't have answers to all of your questions, as I am no expert on the life
> >cycle of the Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis).  I have read of the
> >relationship of the butterfly's larva with a species of ant (which feeds on
> >larval secretions), but don't know to what extent the relationship is
> >symbiotic.

The lycaenid larvae have a transverse oval opening on the eleventh segement 
along the dorsal line. The larva can produce a drop of sweet liquid at 
will. Ants are very fond of this and will glady serve as guardians for 
these 'meal tickets'

Many species of ants will actually tend the larvae through the first 
three stages. Some species in India will, when it is time to proceed 
into the pupal stage, Take the larvae deeper underground so they can 
be better protected. 

The Ceylonese (Aphnaeus lohita) will acutally build shelters for the 
larvae from the leaves of Acacia and Greviilae trees. The caterpillars 
are driven out at night and then herded back to the shelters in the morning.

The Lycaenids are also considered carnivorous butterflies.

Rick Mikula

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