Acoustics, context and function of vibrational signalling in a Lycaenid butterfly-ant mutualism

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Animal Behaviour (Impact Factor: 3.14). 08/2000; 60(1):13-26. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1364
Source: PubMed


Juveniles of the Australian common imperial blue butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras, produce substrate-borne vibrational signals in the form of two kinds of pupal calls and three larval calls. Pupae stridulate in the presence of conspecific larvae, when attended by an ant guard, and as a reaction against perturbation. Using pupal pairs in which one member was experimentally muted, pupal calls were shown to be important in ant attraction and the maintenance of an ant guard. A pupa may use calls to regulate levels of its attendant ants and to signal its potential value in these mutualistic interactions. Therefore substrate-borne vibrations play a significant role in the communication between J. evagoras and its attendant ants and pupal calls appear to be more than just signals acting as a predator deterrent. Similarly, caterpillars make more sound when attended by Iridomyrmex anceps, suggesting that larval calls may be important in mediating ant symbioses. One larval call has the same mean dominant frequency, pulse rate, bandwidth and pulse length as the primary signal of a pupa, suggesting a similarity in function.

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Available from: Naomi E Pierce
    • "Lycaenid immatures have a variety of other adaptations for entraining ant attendance. Some larvae and pupae produce substrate-borne vibrations that attract ants (Downey & Allyn, 1973; DeVries, 1990; Travassos & Pierce, 2000), and at least one parasitic species that lives in ant nests mimics the vibrational signals of the ant queen (Barbero et al., 2009). Many species also have dendritic setae, although the function of these is still a matter of debate (Common & Waterhouse, 1981). "
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    ABSTRACT: Caterpillars of the lycaenid butterfly, Liphyra brassolis, live inside the nests of arboreal weaver ants, Oecophylla smaragdina, and eat their brood. Observations of mature larvae suggest that they are impervious to relentless ant molestation, yet they lack sclerotized cuticular plates. We document a novel form of integumental defence that imparts protection from ant attack whilst maintaining the flexibility necessary to walk with a hydraulic skeleton. Analysis of the trunk integument and cuticular structures of early and late instars of L. brassolis using light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and histology revealed three new setae types (disc, clavate, and lanceolate), as well as three new cuticular structures (pored sockets, cuticular pores, and cuticular domes). The unique cuticle is covered with lanceolate setae, which act as endocuticular struts, and overlapping scale-like sockets, which form a hard, flexible integument. The imperfect armour of the early-instar larvae suggests that abundant, putatively secretory pores are likely to be homologous to pore cupola organs (PCOs) found in other lycaenid larvae and thus may exude semiochemicals to allay ant aggression. The importance of these pores presumably wanes as structural (setal) cuticular defenses are reinforced in later instars, when adult ants have been observed attacking caterpillars to no avail. The caterpillar's antennae are unusual and seem to be involved in manipulating ant larvae into the caterpillar's mouth. Behavioural observations indicate that the dexterity of these structures is associated with eating ants (myrmecophagy).
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    • "The DNO secrete nutritious droplets for ants, and the TOs are assumed to secrete volatile substances that attract and alert ants [8], [21]. In addition to these ant-associated organs, many lycaenids also stridulate to communicate with their attendant ants [22], [23]. "
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    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Myrmica sabuleti, M. scabrinodis, and M. schencki have differences between worker and queen stridulations, and some nest parasite caterpillars can mimic queen stridulations more than those of workers and thereby receive increased attention from workers (Barbero et al., 2009). In a similar ant-parasite system, Travassos and Pierce (2000) specify that they use the terms ''sounds'' and ''calls'' for simplicity when describing substrate-borne vibrations. Species differ in sound level and distance at which stridulations are perceptible (Markl, 1965; Spangler, 1967). "
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