The ladybird Thalassa saginata, an obligatory myrmecophile of Dolichoderus bidens ant colonies
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The larvae and pupae of the ladybird Thalassa saginata develop inside colonies of the dolichoderine ant Dolichoderus bidens. This association is the first specific and obligatory relationship recorded between ants and ladybirds. The ants provide shelter and protection to the larvae but the diet of the latter remains unclear. The integration of T. saginata larvae into the ant colonies is achieved by mimicking the cuticular patterns of the ants’ brood. Moreover, the larvae secrete substances from their hairs and anal gland that are likely to enhance their attractiveness.