Natures wonders: triple symbosis (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, December 31, 2015, 05:17 (1654 days ago) @ romansh

A fungus, a caterpillar and an ant species all working together, with a butterfly from the caterpillar involved:

" As the caterpillar gorged on the bulb, an ant seemed to be drumming on the caterpillar's back. This drumming motion spurred the caterpillar to secrete a sugary liquid from a specialized organ on its back, called the dorsal nectary organ, which the ant then devoured.

"It turned out that the caterpillar and the ant had an "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" relationship. The ant does bodyguard duty, warding off spiders, wasps or other ants that eat defenseless caterpillars, while the caterpillar provides snacks for the ant, a relationship known as myrmecophily, Pomerantz said.

"'It's multiple layers," Pomerantz told Live Science. "You've got a tree, you've got a parasite inside the tree, you've got caterpillars eating the parasites and then ants taking care of the caterpillar."


"He said he suspects the caterpillar grows into the gray butterfly, and that the butterfly uses its camouflage coloring to hide from lizards and birds. In other words, both the larval stage and the adult stage of this butterfly species have evolved changes to best take advantage of the tree and its parasitic plant.

"'This really points to this long-term relationship," Pomerantz said.

"That's especially baffling, considering that the parasites emerge from the trees just a few weeks every year to be pollinated, he said."

Comment: Looks like good timing to me.

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