|Copyright: Philip Rose (willow)
|Date Taken: 2006-05-16|
|Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2006-10-17 13:41|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Metallic Cerulean is a small butterfly, that belongs to the Lycaenidae or Blues family.|
An active butterfly that is most likely to be found amongst overgrown gardens, hedges or forest glades. It prefers partial shade to full sun. Its flight is somewhat weak and it stays near the ground, except when the females are looking for larval host plants, then they me be seen higher up. Both sexes visit flowers. They also love to settle on the tips of leaves of bushes or trees at some height and bask in the sun with their wings slightly opened.
Kingdom: Animalia Division: Rhopalocera Phylum: Arthropoda Class: Insecta Order: Lepidoptera Superfamily: Papilionoidea Family: Lycaenidae
The Lycaenids are the second-largest family of butterflies, with about 6000 species worldwide, they are also known as gossamer-winged butterflies.
They comprise about 40 % of all known butterfly species. Subfamilies include the blues Polyommatinae, the coppers Lycaeninae, the hairstreaks Theclinae and the harvesters Miletinae. Adults are small, under 5 cm usually, and brightly coloured, sometimes with a metallic gloss. The male's forelegs are reduced in size and lack claws.
The Larvae are often flattened rather than cylindrical, with glands that may produce secretions that attract and subdued ants. Their cuticles tend to be thickened, and they do not thrash when ants are present as do most caterpillars.
Lycaenids feed on various kinds of food including ferns, conifers, fungi, lichens, cycads, aphids and ant larvae.
75% of the species are associated with ants. The term used to describe this is a 'myrmecophilous' relationship.
This relationship can be mutual, parasitic, or predatory, depending on the species.
In some species, larvae are attended and protected by ants while eating a plant, and the ants receive sugar-rich honeydew from them, throughout the larval life. In other species, only the first few instars are spent on the plant, and the remainder of the larval lifespan is spent as a predator within the ant nest. It becomes a parasite, feeding on ant regurgitations, or a predator on the ant larvae.
The caterpillar pupates inside the ant's nest and the ants continue to look after the pupa. Just before the adult emerges the wings of the butterfly inside the pupal case detach from it, and the pupa becomes silvery. The adult butterfly emerges from the pupa after 3-4 weeks, still inside the ant nest.
The butterfly must crawl out of the ant nest before it can expand its wings.
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