Yes, that’s really the name for this beautiful butterfly. If that isn’t fancy enough, try the scientific name, Maculinea arion.
How Long Do Blue Butterflies Live?
Large Blue butterflies are native to Europe and some parts of Asia. The caterpillar is about ½ inch long and can live 9 months before forming a chrysalis. The butterfly has a wingspan of up to 2 inches but only lives for a few weeks.
What Do Big Blue Butterflies Have to Do with Red Ants?
Large Blues live part of their lives in symbiosis with red ants! “Large Blue caterpillars feed on wild Thyme or Marjoram flowers for the first few days of development.” Afterward, they seek out the nests a specific species of red ant and hibernate inside their tunnels. “On emerging from hibernation, the caterpillars will then begin to eat the red ant’s eggs and larvae for up to 3 weeks. It will then hang itself by its legs on the nest’s roof and build a chrysalis around itself. The caterpillar will spend a further 3 weeks transforming into the Large Blue butterfly adult. After its change from caterpillar to butterfly, the insect emerges from its chrysalis and leaves the red ant nest to find a mate.” (source below)
This appears on the surface to be very one-sided, to be parasitic, not symbiotic. But note these details: when the ant finds the caterpillar, the ant strokes it with its antenna. The caterpillar gives off a sweet milk from its tenth segment which the ant drinks for an hour. Then the caterpillar hunches up and the ant carries it to its nest. There the ants continue to enjoy the milk while the caterpillar munches on the ant larvae.
While still in the den, Large Blue enters the pula stage and develops into an adult butterfly. “Usually, red ants will escort the newly emerged butterfly to the surface, taking it to a low plant or shrub nearby. The red ants will encircle the butterfly and ward off any predators that attempt to attack the butterfly as it dries out. After the butterfly is ready to fly away, the ants will retreat back into their nest.”
Do Evolutionists Have an Answer?