strange caterpillar


Brownie Butterflies (Miletus sp., Miletinae, Lycaenidae) and Ants

A very strange relationship of sorts exists between butterflies of the Miletinae Lycaenid subfamily (in this case, the Brownies) and ants - a relationship that allows the adult butterfly and its caterpillars to sit nonchalantly amongst throngs of ants in what would otherwise be a death sentence.

Firstly, the Miletinae caterpillars are carnivorous and feed on sap-sucking Hemipterans such as aphids and mealy bugs. Ants “farm” and defend the same beasts for their sweet nutritious honeydew. So these two worlds inevitably collide.
It has been postulated that the caterpillars (and clearly adult butterflies) have some kind of chemo-mimicry that render themselves ‘invisible’ to the ants. As far as the ants are concerned, the butterflies and caterpillars are perceived as just other ants in the colony.

Strangely, although the caterpillars and adult butterflies of the Miletinae derive 'protection’ from the ants, they give nothing back in return. On top of that, the adult butterflies partake of the honeydew that are secreted by the aphids and mealy bugs, and their caterpillars feed on the ants’ source of food.

So it is hardly fair, but the only losers are the caterpillar’s meals.

by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese butterflies on my Flickr site HERE…..


The Chrysalis Cavern candles were found in one of the deepest chambers of the great chrysalis cavern. Once we located them, we found that they had been completely crystalized by a rare cocooning caterpillar. While this strange caterpillar spins itself into a chrysalis it also crystalizes it’s surroundings. We were lucky on our last astral exploration to come across such a rare and beautiful find!

These hand poured candles are made from naturally whitened beeswax, dyed a vivid shade of violet, and lightly scented with lavender essential oil. 

Get them as a group: Chrysalis Cavern candle set

Or purchase individually: