Scientists have discovered an unusual form of symbiosis in forests of Peru


Scientists have discovered an unusual form of symbiosis in forests of Peru, the metalmark butterfly species Adelotypa annulifera collaborates with ants, while in the caterpillar stage, however, after becoming a butterfly steals their power source.

As caterpillars, these butterflies produce sugary excretions, by which the ants protect them from predators. After the caterpillars turn into butterflies, they attack the nectaries located at the ends of young shoots of bamboo. These nectaries usually inhabited by ants, which stimulate the production of nectar as part of their food. Ants can cope with many invasions on nectar, but the butterflies shashechnye.

The researchers observed that the ants can’t stop the butterflies. According to Philip Torres from rice University (USA), they emit a special smell, similar to that allocated tracks. This smell can cause ants of the intention to take care of butterflies, and the hope for a sweet selection, but butterflies they can not produce. The butterflies lay on the shoots eggs, then fly away. This continues a vicious circle — the ants again have to worry about the caterpillars that turned into butterflies again “plunder” the source of the nectar, forcing the ants to wait their turn, leave the eggs and fly away.

Caring for offspring and feeding on nectar is not the only benefit Adelotypa annulifera. Because, according to Torres, the ants have chemical protection, avoid birds to hunt them. Butterflies use it — the patterns on the wings disguise them under the ants.

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