Study

The effect of queen ants on the survival of Maculinea arion in Myrmica ant nests

  • Published source details Thomas J.A. & Wardlaw J.C. (1990) The effect of queen ants on the survival of Maculinea arion in Myrmica ant nests. Oecologia, 85, 87-91.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Translocate to re-establish populations in known or believed former range

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Rear declining species in captivity

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Translocate to re-establish populations in known or believed former range

    A site comparison study (years not given) in two grasslands in Devon and Dorset, UK (Thomas & Wardlaw 1990) found that translocated large blue Maculinea arion caterpillars were more likely to survive in Myrmica sabuleti nests without queen ants than in nests with queens present. The survival of caterpillars in nests without queen ants (8 out of 12 caterpillars) was higher than in nests with queen ants present (5 out of 20 caterpillars). In August, one locally caught caterpillar was placed near each of 21 ant nests in Devon, and one caterpillar collected in Dordogne, France, was placed near each of 11 ant nests in Dorset. Adoption of each caterpillar into the nests was observed. Two weeks later, nests in Dorset were excavated to measure survival. In Devon, adults were caught in emergence traps the following year and, after emergence, nests were excavated and the number of queen ants present in each nest was counted.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

  2. Rear declining species in captivity

    A controlled study in 1979–1980 in a laboratory in the UK (Thomas & Wardlaw 1990) found that large blue Maculinea arion caterpillars reared in ant Myrmica spp. nests without a queen present were more likely to survive than caterpillars reared in nests with a queen. The survival of caterpillars in nests without queen ants (10 out of 26 caterpillars) was higher than in nests with queen ants present (6 out of 39 caterpillars). The authors reported that caterpillars in Myrmica scabrinodis nests had lower survival than caterpillars in nests of the other species (data not presented). In 1979 and 1980, a total of 65 Myrmica ant colonies were established, containing 20–1,137 workers/colony depending on nest design (see paper for details). In each of 26 nests, 1–6 queen ants (depending on colony size) were present, and the other 39 nests did not contain queens. Most nests were Myrmica sabuleti, but four colonies were established with each of Myrmica rubra, Myrmica ruginodis and Myrmica scabrinodis. After >1 week, one newly moulted caterpillar was introduced to each nest. Caterpillar survival was monitored for >2 weeks.

    (Summarised by: Andrew Bladon)

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