Caterpillars Con Ants with Smell
The chemical con trick used by Alcon blue butterfly larvae to get ants to take care of them has been detailed by scientists working in Denmark.
The Alcon blue grubs are well known for deceiving the ants into feeding them while letting their own brood starve.
"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," explained Dr Nash.
"They mimic the surface chemicals that the ants have on their own brood, and we've been able to show that the closer that mimicry, the faster they get picked up by ants and taken back to the ant nest and put amongst their own brood," he said.
"Once they are there, they become highly virulent parasites: they eat some of the brood and they will also get fed by the worker ants, and get fed in preference to the ants' own brood."
Tags: Alcon Blue Butterfly | Ant | Larvae | Butterfly