The Purple Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera) is one of the rarest butterflies in Australia, and it has a very unusual symbiotic relationship with a particular ant species (Anonychomyra itinerant).
These butterflies live in a very cold environment, primarily in altitudes above 900 m (3000 ft)- where a a rare species of plant (Bursaria spins lasiophylla) also makes its home. The Butterfly caterpillars feed on this rare plant and here’s where the ants come in: The ants basically adopt a baby butterfly and act like nannies- the butterfly larvae even lives in the ants’ nest!
Each day, the ants take the caterpillar up to the rare plant to feed 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. And the ants get a sweet nectar from the caterpillars in return.
To ensure this fascinating relationship continues, conservationists are working to protect these butterflies and their environment: https://conservationvolunteers.com.au/news/2018/10/volunteers-rally-protect-one-australias-rarest-butterflies/
About the Purple Copper Butterfly: http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/lyca/spinifera.html
Here is the Purple Copper butterfly’s conservation status: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/16123/5392996
More info on the IUCN: http://6ks.564.myftpupload.com/activism/the-iucn-and-cites/
read on imgur: https://imgur.com/gallery/qCEEHS5