Third and fourth instar larvae and pupae of the facultatively myrmecophilous Palaearctic blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus showed no alteration in developmental time when reared in the presence of two species of Lasius 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 male P. 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.
- Cost-benefit analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics