Of the four most diverse insect orders, Lepidoptera contains remarkably few predatory and parasitic species. Although species with these habits have evolved multiple times in moths and butterflies, they have rarely been associated with diversification. The wholly aphytophagous subfamily Miletinae (Lycaenidae) is an exception, consisting of nearly 190 species distributed primarily throughout the Old World tropics and subtropics. Most miletines eat Hemiptera, although some consume ant brood or are fed by ant trophallaxis. A well-resolved phylogeny inferred using 4915 bp from seven markers sampled from representatives of all genera and nearly one-third the described species was used to examine the biogeography and evolution of biotic associations in this group. Biogeographic analyses indicate that Miletinae likely diverged from an African ancestor near the start of the Eocene, and four lineages dispersed between Africa and Asia. Phylogenetic constraint in prey selection is apparent at two levels: related miletine species are more likely to feed on related Hemiptera, and related miletines are more likely to associate with related ants, either directly by eating the ants, or indirectly by eating hemipteran prey that are attended by those ants. These results suggest that adaptations for host ant location by ovipositing female miletines may have been retained from phytophagous ancestors that associated with ants mutualistically.
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