The ecology an evolution of ant association in the Lycaenidae (Lepidoptera)

Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
Annual Review of Entomology (Impact Factor: 13.73). 02/2002; 47(1):733-71. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ento.47.091201.145257
Source: PubMed


The estimated 6000 species of Lycaenidae account for about one third of all Papilionoidea. The majority of lycaenids have associations with ants that can be facultative or obligate and range from mutualism to parasitism. Lycaenid larvae and pupae employ complex chemical and acoustical signals to manipulate ants. Cost/benefit analyses have demonstrated multiple trade-offs involved in myrmecophily. Both demographic and phylogenetic evidence indicate that ant association has shaped the evolution of obligately associated groups. Parasitism typically arises from mutualism with ants, and entomophagous species are disproportionately common in the Lycaenidae compared with other Lepidoptera. Obligate associations are more common in the Southern Hemisphere, in part because highly ant-associated lineages make up a larger proportion of the fauna in these regions. Further research on phylogeny and natural history, particularly of the Neotropical fauna, will be necessary to understand the role ant association has played in the evolution of the Lycaenidae.

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    • "In most blue butterflies, tending by ants provides survival benefits to the larval hosts by providing protection from predators or parasites (Axen 2000; Stadler et al. 2001). Larvae reward ants with nutrient rich liquid secretions (Pierce et al. 2002; Fielder 2006). While many studies have studied the effects of fire on butterflies (Swengel 1996; Huntzinger 2003; Vogel et al. 2007; Nowicki et al. 2015; McElderry et al. 2015) and ants (Andersen 1991; Farji-Brener et al. 2002; Hoffmann 2003; Izhaki et al. 2003; Ratchford et al. 2005; Arnan et al. 2006; Parr et al. 2007; Parr and Andersen 2008; Del-Claro and Marquis 2015; Hosoishi et al. 2015) individually, far fewer studies have focused on the way fire may influence this important mutualism (New et al. 2000). "
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    • "However, some use insect-derived food resources during all or part of their development. These include ant eggs, larvae and pupae, ant regurgitations, Hemiptera, hemipteran honeydew, and other lycaenid larvae (Pierce et al., 2002). Some hemipterophagous lycaenids are myrmecophilous and can thwart an attack by their natural enemies with the help of hemipteran-attendant ant species. "
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    • " seem to be less well understood in vertebrate systems . Arguably , more complex mechanisms of recognizing and responding to cheating are expected among those inter - specific cooperative , or mutualistic , associations that involve social behavior ( Raihani et al . , 2012 ) — such as between ants and the larvae of lycaenid butterflies ( e . g . , Pierce et al . , 2002 ) or associations involving cleaner fish ( Vail et al . , 2013 ) . Particularly interesting are those inter - specific systems—from " slave - making ants " ( e . g . , Buschinger , 2009 ) to microbes ( e . g . , Lopez et al . , 2011 ) in which the exploited species is unable to detect or respond to the exploiting species ."

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