Posted by: r.m. | February 6, 2009

faking the song

Once again, insects reveal themselves to be simply wondrous.

Researchers have found that the larvae and pupae of Maculinea rebeli – a parasitic butterfly native to western Europe, though threatened with extinction – impersonate red ants so faithfully that worker ants worship them as if they were queens, caring for the developing caterpillar even at the expense of their own lives.

Caterpillar inside a red ant nest, being fed regurgitations by a worker ant (Courtesy of Jeremy Thomas)

Caterpillar inside a red ant nest, being fed regurgitations by a worker ant

(Courtesy of Jeremy Thomas)

We had known of species imitating the appearance of other species, but this — pretending to be another by singing another’s song — just leaves me in awe of the beautiful wonder of life around us, or, in this case, at our feet.

more information on those tricky caterpillars


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