Bryan and Kay Milner have become very keen observers of “bugs” in Flowerdale. Their latest curiosity was photographed on Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) branches, the “bugs” on the left are pupae of the Common Imperial Blue Butterfly (Jalmenus evagoras). The adult stage is in the picture on the right. Note the tails on the lower wings.
Also evident in these pictures are black ants (Iridomyrmex sp.), particularly in attendance of the pupae. A special relationship exists between the ant and this butterfly. The caterpillars/pupae exude a sweet honeydew that the ants like. In return, the ants protect the caterpillars/pupae – and believe me, these tiny ants have a very annoying bite! This relationship is called myrmecophilous or an ant-liking symbiotic relationship.
It is possible the butterfly is hanging around the pupae to mate with any female that emerges.
For more information on Victorian butterflies click here