Butterflies can trick ants into raising them
The European butterfly Maculina rebeli has learned to raise its young as parasites, so that ants will be tricked into feeding them and giving them special treatment. They give off a scent that mimics the ants so that they can take refuge inside the nests. Once they have done this and are a caterpillar they can steal food from the ant larvae and can even get special treatment - taking it away from the ant larvae.
It turns out that ant queens make subtle sounds that signal their special status to worker ants. The caterpillars have learned to mimic those sounds, the researchers say, earning high enough status to be rescued before others if the nest is disturbed.
In times of food shortage, nurse ants have been known to kill their own larvae and feed them to the caterpillars pretending to be queen ants, they added.
In nature, the real ant queen and the caterpillar keep to different parts of the ant colony and would not encounter one another, the report said.