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Larval feeding behavior and ant association in frosted elfin, Callophrys irus (Lycaenidae)

Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society

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Abstract

Callophrys irus is a rare and declining lycaenid found in the eastern U.S., inhabiting xeric and open habitats maintained by disturbance. Populations are localized and monophagous. We document a previously undescribed larval feeding behavior in both field and lab reared larvae in which late instar larvae girdled the main stem of the host plant. Girdled stems provide a unique feeding sign that was useful in detecting the presence of larvae in the field. We also observed frequent association of field larvae with several species of ants and provide a list of ant species. We suggest two hypotheses on the potential benefits of stem-girdling to C. irus larvae: 1) Stem girdling provides phloem sap as a larval food source and increases the leaf nutrient concentration, increasing larval growth rates and providing high quality honeydew for attending ants; 2) Stem girdling reduces stem toxicity by inhibiting transport of toxins from roots to the stem.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Larval feeding behavior and ant association in frosted elfin, Callophrys irus (Lycaenidae)
Series title:
Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society
Volume
61
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society
First page:
61
Last page:
66
Number of Pages:
6