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Photos: Butterflies Snag Goo from Unwitting Ants

Mimicry for self-defense

(Image credit: Aaron Pomerantz)

It's not exactly clear why the butterflies sport red dots on their wings, but one possibility is that they are trying to mimic the ants, thereby deterring predators from turning them into a tasty snack.

Stuck in a bad relationship

(Image credit: Phil Torres)

It's not exactly clear why the ants tolerate the freeloading from the butterflies.

[Read the full story on the butterfly-ant relationship]

Chemical communicators

(Image credit: Phil Torres)

One possibility is that ants have poor vision and communicate by smell, meaning that if the caterpillars continue to secrete friendly pheromones into their adult stage, the ants may not notice that the butterflies have been

Ant does bodyguard duty

(Image credit: Aaron Pomerantz)

Here, an ant does bodyguard duty for the larva.

[Read the full story on the butterfly-ant relationship]

Ant and butterfly

(Image credit: Phil Torres)

An ant gets some air hanging out on the wing of the Adelotypa annulifera butterfly.

Adult butterfly

(Image credit: Phil Torres)

Here, the adult butterfly rests on a leaf.

Hands off!

Here, a butterfly and an ant hang out together on a bamboo leaf.

[Read the full story on the butterfly-ant relationship]