Ants Endanger Butterflies

Schaus Swallowtail

Schaus Swallowtail

The Schaus swallowtail butterfly, Heraclides aristodemus ponceanus, is an endangered species of butterfly in Florida with critically low numbers. Habitat loss is an important component in its decline, but exotic species are having a detrimental effect. .

Clayborn and Koptur* excluded ants from interacting with the caterpillars and found decreased survival when ants are not excluded. The most problematic species was Pseudomyrmex gracilis the Elongate twig ant, an exotic species from Mexico and not native to Florida. These ant predators were the most aggressive toward Schaus Swallowtail caterpillars of any of the ant species observed. The threat to endangered butterflies is one more reason to guard against transport of exotic species.

*Jaeson Clayborn & Suzanne Koptur. 2017. Mortal combat between ants and caterpillars: an ominous threat to the endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly in the Florida Keys, USA. Journal of Insect Conservation. pp 1–14. First Online: 14 July 2017

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Endangered Species, Invasive Species. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ants Endanger Butterflies

  1. Pingback: Ants Endanger Butterflies – Entomo Planet

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