Last week, I read an interesting article on the Maculina rebeli butterfly—“Ants tricked into raising butterflies.” This European butterfly lays its eggs near ant nests, and the resulting catepillars exude scents and mimic sounds to trick the ants into feeding them, caring for them, and even protecting them from predators:
But, not content just to be fed, the butterflies even manage to demand special treatment, Jeremy A. Thomas of Britain’s University of Oxford and colleagues report.
It turns out that ant queens make subtle sounds that signal their special status to worker ants. The caterpillars have learned to mimic those sounds, the researchers say, earning high enough status to be rescued before others if the nest is disturbed.
In times of food shortage, nurse ants have been known to kill their own larvae and feed them to the caterpillars pretending to be queen ants, they added.
Amazing is our world, full of wondrous things.