Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 465–467 | Cite as

Maculinea alcon exploits Myrmica aloba in Portugal: unusual host ant species of a myrmecophilous butterfly in a peripheral region

  • Paula Seixas Arnaldo
  • Irma Wynhoff
  • Patrícia Soares
  • Maria da Conceição Rodrigues
  • José Aranha
  • Sándor Csősz
  • Ernestino Maravalhas
  • András Tartally
Short Communication


Larvae of the obligate myrmecophilous social parasite Maculinea alcon (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) were found exclusively using Myrmica aloba (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) ant hosts in NE-Portugal. This is the first record of the host ant usage of any Maculinea species in Portugal, and of any Maculinea using M. aloba nests. These results on such peripheral European populations confirm that knowledge of the local host ant species is crucial for the successful protection of these endangered butterflies, and vital for examining the evolution of such interactions.


Alcon Blue Biogeography Conservation Endangered population Host-specificity Iberian Peninsula 



To H. Gonçalves for showing us sites with gentian plants. G.W. Elmes determined the first M. aloba samples from 2002. D.R. Nash, E. Tóth and Z. Varga revised the manuscript. AT is supported by a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Seixas Arnaldo
    • 1
  • Irma Wynhoff
    • 2
  • Patrícia Soares
    • 3
  • Maria da Conceição Rodrigues
    • 1
  • José Aranha
    • 1
  • Sándor Csősz
    • 4
  • Ernestino Maravalhas
    • 5
  • András Tartally
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Forest Science and LandscapeUniversity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  2. 2.Dutch Butterfly ConservationWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.GETER, Spacial Study GroupUniversity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto DouroVila RealPortugal
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyHungarian Natural History MuseumBudapestHungary
  5. 5.TAGIS, Centro de Conservação das Borboletas de PortugalMuseu Nacional de História Natural, Museu BocageLisbonPortugal
  6. 6.Centre for Social Evolution, Department of BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  7. 7.Department of Evolutionary Zoology and Human BiologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary

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