Influence of Camponotus blandus (Formicinae) and flower buds on the occurrence of Parrhasius polibetes (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in Banisteriopsis malifolia (Malpighiaceae)
Keywords:Brazilian savanna, larval food, florivory, myrmecophily
AbstractIn the Brazilian savanna, myrmecophilous lycaenids are often found in many shrubs feeding on plant reproductive structures while are tended by ants, but only recently the role of both ants and food on the occurrence of lycaenids have received attention. In this study, we investigated the influence of Camponotus blandus (Formicinae) and flower bud abundance on the occurrence of Parrhasius polibetes, a florivorous lycaenid species that occurs in Banisteriopsis malifolia(Malpighiaceae). We also examined to what extent larval florivory was deleterious to plant reproductive outputs. Ant-exclusion experiments revealed that most P. polibetes individuals were found on branches with free C. blandus access. Nonetheless, the occurrence of larvae was not related to the abundance of these ants and flower buds, indicating that the presence, rather than the abundance of mutualistic ants and food, influenced the occurrence of P. polibetes. Larvae were attended by C. blandus, which antennated frequently the dorsal nectary organ of larvae. Larval florivory was not deleterious to the plant. Banisteriopsis malifolia produces thousands of buds simultaneously and larvae feed only on a small portion of flower buds. The occurrence of P. polibetes inB. malifolia is advantageous for the larvae, since this plant supports mutualistic ants and plenty of food resources.
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