Insect Associates - Alex Wild Photography
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A Formica francoeuri field ant worker tending to the larva of a Great Copper butterfly (Lycaena xanthoides).  The caterpillar produces secretions attractive to ants, and in turn the ants protect the caterpillar from predators and parasites.

San Diego Co., California, USA

A Formica francoeuri field ant worker tending to the larva of a Great Copper butterfly (Lycaena xanthoides). The caterpillar produces secretions attractive to ants, and in turn the ants protect the caterpillar from predators and parasites. San Diego Co., California, USA

Formica francoeuriformicinaeformicidaeinsectsinsectantsantbiologyecologymutualismmutualismsspecies interactionsevolutionlycaenidaecaterpillarslepidopteralycaenatendingfield ants