Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (4): 637-641, 2008 | 10.14411/eje.2008.086

Myrmica sabuleti (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) not necessary for the survival of the population of Phengaris (Maculinea) arion (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) in eastern Poland: Lower host-ant specificity or evidence for geographical variation of an endangered social parasite?

Marcin SIELEZNIEW1, Anna M. STANKIEWICZ2
1 Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Institute of Biology, University of Bialystok, Swierkowa 20B, PL-15-950 Białystok, Poland; e-mail: marcins@uwb.edu.pl
2 Laboratory of Social and Myrmecophilous Insects, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, PL-00-679 Warszawa, Poland; e-mail: ams@miiz.waw.pl

Larvae and pupae of the obligatorily myrmecophilous Phengaris (Maculinea) arion were found for the first time in nests of Myrmica rugulosa, M. hellenica and M. schencki at a site in eastern Poland. M. sabuleti, commonly considered as a major host of the butterfly and whose abundance is vital for the survival of P. arion populations, was shown to be very rare and not used. Estimated mean density of Myrmica nests was very low, which suggests that relatively vast areas are necessary to support a viable population of P. arion in similar sandy habitats. This may explain the decline and rarity of the butterfly in the whole region, even though its relationships with ants seem not to be very specific there.

Keywords: Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae, Phengaris arion, Maculinea, Myrmica rugulosa, Myrmica hellenica, Myrmica schencki, Myrmica sabuleti, myrmecophily, host specificity, social parasitism

Received: February 19, 2008; Accepted: May 12, 2008; Published: October 24, 2008

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