The larval instars, pupae and adults of ant-associated lycaenid butterflies have to integrate into the ants' communication system in order to appease the normal aggressive behaviour of the ants and hence to profit from protection from predators. The vibration signalling of caterpillars, pupae and adults (imagines) was studied and its impact on the appeasement of ant aggressiveness after the emergence of the butterfly from the pupal skin was tested. As the vibration signalling in the larval instars and the emerging butterfly is only found in lycaenid species, which are at the same time the species with ant-attendant relationships in their life-cycle, the vibration might play a role as manner of communication. During emergence, the communication only works well in the Polyommatini, while other lycaenids evoke aggressive behaviour in the ants and get killed easily. In case of adults a pheromonal substance might also be involved.

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CC BY 3.0 NL ("Naamsvermelding")

Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam

Nico W. Elfferich. (1998). Is the larval and imaginal signalling of Lycaenidae and other Lepidoptera related to communication with ants. Deinsea, 4(1), 91–96.