, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 60-63

First online:

Ant-dependent food plant selection by the mistletoe butterfly Ogyris amaryllis (Lycaenidae)

  • Peter R. AtsattAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California

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A quantitative study of the relationship between antoccupied mistletoes and oviposition by Ogyris amaryllis (Lycaenidae) revealed diet selection to be ant-dependent. Chemical toxins apparently prohibit the use of ant-occupied Lysiana plants. Nearly all of the 5106 censused eggs were laid on Amyema individuals with ants, independent of plant abundance or relative quality. On the average, only 32% of these nutritionally acceptable individuals were actually suitable for oviposition. The selection of Amyema maidenii with ants over nutritionally superior A. preissii without ants clearly identifies the secondary importance of food quality to O. amaryllis. Oviposition normally occurs after tactile stimulation by ants. Under experimental conditions without ants, females often laid clutches of 1–3 eggs, but significantly increased clutch size after contact with ants. Eggs laid in the presence of ants had lower parasitism rates than eggs laid away from ants.