Today I learned about the Purple Copper Butterfly. One of the rarest butterflies in Australia, it has a symbiotic relationship with ants that escort its larvae to a plant to feed, then return it to the safety of the ant nest in the evening. The ants get a sweet nectar from the caterpillars in return.
“One of the rarest butterflies in Australia, the Purple Copper Butterfly (Paramecia spinier) feeds on one rare species of plant (Bursaria spinosa subsp. lasiophylla), in a very cold environment and has a symbiotic relationship with an ant species (Anonychomyra itinerant).”
The ants take the caterpillar up to the Bursaria plant to feed during the day and then return them to the ant nest at night. While the caterpillar sleeps, the ants watch over them and keep them safe from predators. The ants get a sweet nectar from the caterpillars in return.