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Official Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society of Africa
2000, Metamorphosis Volume 11, Issue 1: 3 - 19
Publication Date : 2000-03-31
Author/s : Alan Heath and Andre J.M. Claassens

Title :

New observations of ant associations and life history adaptations (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in South Africa

Abstract :

Some recent advances have been made in the study of ant-lycaenid relationships, particularly in the discovery of trophallaxis as a primary food source in at least two instances, Chrysoritis dicksoni (Gabriel) and Thestor yildizae Koçak.  The caterpillars of myrmecophilous species from two genera, Chrysoritis Butler, and Aloeides Hübner were observed to make sounds which may play a communicative role in their association with host ants.  The final instar of Thestor basutus basutus (Wallengren) appears to feed upon organic detritus within the ants’ nest, providing a rare example of commensalism.  Further knowledge has been gained within the genus Aloeides in the discovery of two newly identified genera of ant associates – Monomorium Mayr and Pheidole Westwood (Myrmicinae) and the observation that host ant eggs are used as the primary food source in the final instar of A. pallid grandis Tite & Dickson.  Also that the dorsal nectar organ is absent in the final instars of A. dentatis (Swierstra), and Trimenia malagrida maryae (Dickson & Henning) whilst those where it is now known to exist in earlier instars but lost in the final instar, include A. apicalis Tite & Dickson, A. thyra (Linnaeus), A. pallid grandis and Phasis thero thero (Linnaeus).  The appearance and disappearance of the dorsal nectar organ (DNO) is discussed and current knowledge tabulated.  The environmental conditions which may have affected the evolution of trophic strategies and caterpillar morphology is postulated.  It is also argued that behavior can be a labile characteristic among closely related lycaenid species and hence not a reliable taxonomic character at higher levels.

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Keywords:

Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Lycaeninae, Thestor, Aloeides, Chrysoritis, evolution, myrmecophily, trophallaxis, commensalism, oophagy, aphytophagy, life histories, acoustics, Formicinae, Myrmicinae.

Citation :

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