Amazonian Adelotypa annulifera butterfly is a thief

Amazonian Adelotypa annulifera butterfly is a thief

It seems like you find them everywhere, even in the animal kingdom.  This freeloader inhabits in the Amazonas is a rather peculiar butterfly.  It turns out that this species of butterfly simply picks up the bamboo secretions from ants and simply flies away with it.  This relationship, known as kleptoparasitism, is the first ever documented between butterfly and ants. 

Aaron Pomerantz, co-author of the study has said on thenextgenscientist.com, "They're kind of jerks at the adult stage. They're just stealing a resource, and they're getting away with it for now."

The species lives in South America, from Bolivia all the way to Guyana. In 2013, Pomerantz and his colleague Phil Torres were taking pictures of the butterfly in Peru, near the Tambopata Research Center. This is when they noticed that the butterflies were feeding on the bamboo sap where the ants lived. 

They both realized that even when the species had been known for centuries, very little was known about them or their life cycle. So they started looking for the caterpillar, since, as stated by Pomerantz, "we had no idea what the caterpillars looked like; no one had ever seen them before."

After weeks of intensive looking, they finally found the larvae and their location. After coming several times to study them, they noticed that these usually stayed with the ants all through their life cycle, from larvae to adults. 

At the beginning of the relationship, multiple ant species offer protection to the caterpillars while these provide the ants with amino acids and sugar through a specialized organ known as tentacle nectary organ.  But then, when the butterfly becomes adult, they disguise themselves as ants to be able to easily take away the gooey sap without being disturbed.

It is still to be discovered why ants allow such thievery behavior. For now, the soundest theory could be that ants have poor eyesight and communicate themselves chemically through pheromones. So basically, they do not know what is going on.   

 

Featured Posts

  • Mother Dolphins Sing Their Name to Their Young in the Womb

    It was discovered that mother dolphins sing their name to their young in the womb in a recent research conducted in Denver. It was proven that humans are not the sole creatures who can speak to her baby inside the womb. Dolphins make use of their unique whistle to communicate with their infant. This…
  • Cincinnati Zoo -Why was the Silverback Gorilla killed?

    If you have had an internet connection or ears this past week, you will have heard at least something about a particularly sad series of events in Cincinnati, Ohio. It occurred at the Cincinnati zoo, and resulted in the death of the silverback gorilla named Harambe. It began when a 3 year-old child…
  • Whales Breach in English Bay, Vancouver, B.C.

    It is an unexpected and thrilling occurrence to see whales breach and a frightening sight if you are in a kayak at the same time. This is exactly what happened in English Bay, Vancouver, B.C., Canada when whales were seen breaching in the same area as local kayakers. Captain Michael Sack was near…
  • The World’s Biggest Pig – 1984 pounds

    Generally pigs and other such animals don’t grow more than the average age, height and the weight for their species. However, extraordinary results can happen if the owner of the animal takes care of it properly and provides good quality food. Here is an example of a pig that belongs to a…
  • Australia's project to save the Tasmanian Devil

    The governments of Australia and Tasmania, together with some non-profit charities have come together to work on a program to save the Tasmanian Devil from extinction. The marsupial is at the peril of extinction due to a rare and infectious cancer disease that has spread throughout the population…
  • Why do kangaroos kick-box?

    Almost everyone has seen pictures of female kangaroos carrying her young baby in her pouch, but these fascinating animals have other interesting behaviors. One of them is kick-boxing. Have you ever wondered why they do it? Here’s the reason: Kangaroos are very possessive and protective…

Most Viewed

  • Why are puppies dew claws removed shortly after birth?

    A dew claw is the term for a dog's extra thumb and toe nail. It is located at a higher position than the rest of the dog's nails, at the inner edge of its paw. Dew claws hang from the foot of the dog and are practically of no use to the creature. In fact, if left to grow, it can actually…
  • The Chengdu Panda Breeding

    Chengdu Panda breeding takes place in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu. The pandas are considered a national treasure and beloved by all. The population of the Chengdu Panda is under 2,000; therefore, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has been created to ensure…
  • Five endangered animals

    Animals are helpless when they are met with a situation such as deforestation. Nearly 100 species become extinct on a daily basis because of such activity. This year alone, close to 38 million acres of land is being planned for deforestation! This article focuses of the five most endangered animals…