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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 153975, 10 pages
Review Article

The Host Genera of Ant-Parasitic Lycaenidae Butterflies: A Review

Department of Tropical Ecology and Animal Biodiversity, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna, Austria

Received 10 October 2011; Accepted 3 January 2012

Academic Editor: Volker Witte

Copyright © 2012 Konrad Fiedler. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Numerous butterfly species in the family Lycaenidae maintain myrmecophilous associations with trophobiotic ants, but only a minority of ant-associated butterflies are parasites of ants. Camponotus, Crematogaster, Myrmica, and Oecophylla are the most frequently parasitized ant genera. The distribution of ant-parasitic representatives of the Lycaenidae suggests that only Camponotus and Crematogaster have multiply been invaded as hosts by different independent butterfly lineages. A general linear model reveals that the number of associated nonparasitic lycaenid butterfly species is the single best predictor of the frequency of parasitic interactions to occur within an ant genus. Neither species richness of invaded ant genera nor their ecological prevalence or geographical distribution contributed significantly to that model. Some large and dominant ant genera, which comprise important visitors of ant-mutualistic lycaenids, have no (Formica, Dolichoderus) or very few ant-parasitic butterflies (Lasius, Polyrhachis) associated with them.