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 (Paralucia spinifera) caterpillars feed on a rare species of plant (Bursaria spins, subspecies lasiophylla).
These butterflies live in a very cold environment, primarily in altitudes above 900 m (3000 ft), and enjoy a symbiotic relationship with a particular 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.