Big Word of the Month: Myrmecophily

Uli, our Butterfly House Director, after reading Rachael’s last post, sent along this information:

Myrmecophily: literally “ant-love” (as opposed to Myrmecophobia: the fear of ants).

The term is applied to mutually beneficial associations between ants and other organisms such as plants, arthropods, and fungi.

An example of a “butterfly-ant love” affair is the Malaysian Hairstreak (Anthene emolus) that selects plants hosting aggressive Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) to lay eggs so that the ants can protect the growing caterpillar against other predators, but also transport the little caterpillars around to the host plant for feeding. In return, the ants milk the ‘honeydew’ that the caterpillars secrete. Many other species in that particular butterfly family (Lycaenids) associate with ants, mimicking their pheromones and cohabitate in their nests.

 Pretty cool!

1 response to Big Word of the Month: Myrmecophily

  1. Beck says:

    Myr as in mermaid, me as in meh, co as in coffee, phily as in Philly.


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