The Alcon Blue butterfly
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Maculinea alcon, or the alcon blue to give its common name, is a lycaenid butterfly found in Europe and Asia. Like other members of the genus Maculinea, it has a very unusual life cycle. Eggs are laid on certain food plants on which the first three larval instars feed. However, the fourth instar leaves the plant, drops to the ground, and is "adopted" by an ant colony, where the caterpillar becomes a parasite of the ants.
My current work at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is into communication in and the specificity of the interactions of M. alcon with different Myrmica ants in Europe, particularly Denmark.
You can learn more about this work at the web site for the centre of social evolution.
I have produced a separate web site dealing with the work currently being carried out in our research group which may be reached by clicking here or on the graphic below.
I have, however, retained on this site a selection of photographs taken during fieldwork on the Alcon Blue in 1998 and 1999. Click here to see these photographs.