Oviposition tests of ant preference in a myrmecophilous butterfly


Fraser AM, Tregenza T, Wedell N, Elgar MA, Pierce NE. Oviposition tests of ant preference in a myrmecophilous butterfly. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 2002;15 :861-870.
2002_fraser_et_al.pdf132 KB

Date Published:



Butterflies in the family Lycaenidae that have obligate associations with ants frequently exhibit ant-dependent egg laying behaviour. In a series of field and laboratory choice tests, we assessed oviposition preference of the Australian lycaenid Jalmenus evagoras in response to different species and populations of ants. Females discriminated between attendant and nonattendant ant species, between attendant ant species, and to some extent, between populations of a single ant species. When preferences were found, ovipositing butterflies preferred their locally predominant attendant ant species and geographically proximate attendant ant populations. A reciprocal choice test using adults from a generation of butterflies reared in the absence of ants indicated a genetic component to oviposition preference. Individual females were flexible with respect to oviposition site choice, often ovipositing on more than one treatment during a trial. Preferences arose from a hierarchical ranking of ant treatments. These results are discussed in terms of local adaptation and its possible significance in the diversification of ant-associated lycaenids.


586NATimes Cited:14Cited References Count:40

Last updated on 12/22/2015