Facultative myrmecophily in Deudorix isocrates (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)
KP Kumar, PD Kamala Jayanthi, Abraham Verghese and AK Chakravarthy
The present study investigated the interactive, apparently mutualistic relationships between caterpillars of D. isocrates and different ant species in pomegranate orchard (cv. Bhagwa) at the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bengaluru during 2013-14. The larvae secreted a sugary substance from the dorsal nectary organ on the 7th abdominal segment and the tending ants were noticed to feed upon the secretion. In return, the tending ants were noticed carrying the larval frass to the outside of the bored hole. Camponotus compressus Fabricius was the most commonly observed (34.14%) of seven different ant species that interacted with D. isocrates larvae. The present study observed tending ants walking around the larval entry hole, entering the hole, bringing out larval frass from inner feeding gallery to outside of the fruit and interacting with other tending ants. Further, only advanced stages of larval damage on pomegranate fruit attracted ant attention. The intricacies involved in D. isocrates larva and tending ants are discussed in detail.