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Ants andPolyommatus icarus immatures (Lycaenidae) —sex-related developmental benefits and costs of ant attendance


Third and fourth instar larvae and pupae of the facultatively myrmecophilous Palaearctic blue butterflyPolyommatus icarus showed no alteration in developmental time when reared in the presence of two species ofLasius ants. Sex differences were observed in larval growth and pupal weight, with males growing larger and faster. Sex-related differences also occurred in the costs and benefits of ant-attendance. Male pupal masses tended to be larger in individuals associated with ants, and their pupal weight loss was not enhanced by ant attendance. This positive developmental effect of myrmecophily is tentatively attributed to a stimulating influence of ants on caterpillar feeding behavior. In contrast, females associated with ants tended to lose more weight during the pupal stage. Hence there is evidence for developmental benefits, rather than costs, of myrmecophily in maleP. icarus immatures, whereas ant attendance appears to be more costly for females during the pupal stage. These findings are discussed in relation to data on other myrmecophilous lycaenid species. It is suggested that maintaining low-level myrmecophily and its related organs is a comparatively inexpensive evolutionary stable strategy among this butterfly group.

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Correspondence to Konrad Fiedler.

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Fiedler, K., Hölldobler, B. Ants andPolyommatus icarus immatures (Lycaenidae) —sex-related developmental benefits and costs of ant attendance. Oecologia 91, 468–473 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00650318

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Key words

  • Lycaenidae
  • Formicidae
  • Myrmecophily
  • Mutualism
  • Cost-benefit analysis