Functional analysis of the myrmecophilous relationships between ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and lycaenids (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)
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- Fiedler, K. & Maschwitz, U. Oecologia (1988) 75: 204. doi:10.1007/BF00378598
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Mature larvae of the myrmecophilous lycaenid Polyommatus coridon produce an average of 30.9 droplets of a honeydew-like secretion per hour. They occur in population densities of about 20/m2. The volume of secretion over the whole larval period is estimated to be 22–44 μl with an energy content of 55–110 J. Thus, P. coridon larvae produce carbohydrate secretions with an energy equivalent of 1.1–2.2 kJ/m2. Using data from the literature on ant metabolism, it is shown that these carbohydrate secretions may contribute significantly to the nutrition of attending ants. The myrmecophilous relationship between the larvae of P. coridon and ants should therefore be regarded as a mutualistic symbiosis.