Consequences of the arms race between Maculinea teleius social parasite and Myrmica host ants for myrmecophilous butterfly conservation

  • Published source details Witek M., Slipinski P., Trigos Peral G. & Csata E. (2016) Consequences of the arms race between Maculinea teleius social parasite and Myrmica host ants for myrmecophilous butterfly conservation. Journal of Insect Conservation, 20, 887-893.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Rear declining species in captivity

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Rear declining species in captivity

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2014 in a laboratory in Poland (Witek et al. 2016) found that scarce large blue Maculinea teleius caterpillars reared by ants Myrmica scabrinodis from sites where the butterfly occurs survived longer than caterpillars raised by ants from sites where the butterfly does not occur, but all caterpillars ultimately died. The survival of scarce large blue caterpillars raised in ant colonies collected from sites where scarce large blue occurs was higher than in colonies collected from sites where scarce large blue does not occur (data presented as model results). However, no caterpillars survived >35 days. In August 2014, ten ant colonies were collected from each of four wet meadows, 110–470 km apart: two where scarce large blue and other ant parasites occurred and two where they did not. Each colony (50 old and 50 young workers with 15 ant larvae) was placed in a plastic box (20 × 12 × 7 cm) containing a patch of wet plaster covered by a flowerpot saucer with an entrance notch. Great burnet Sanguisorba officinalis stems were collected from one site, and placed in water with the flowerheads bagged in eight bunches of 25 stems. Bunches were shaken each morning to collect fourth instar caterpillars, and one caterpillar was placed in each ant colony. Fifteen ant larvae were added to each colony each week as food. The survival of caterpillars was checked every 1–2 days until all caterpillars had died.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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