National Geographic : 2003 Jun
the cunning getaway Escaping from angry ants has become an art for Liphyra brassolis. In caterpillar form this protected Australian butterfly feeds exclu sively on the larvae of Oecophylla smaragdina ants. Once it emerges from its shield-like cara pace, the adult butterfly is vulnerable to deadly attack by the ants, which can swarm and dismember intruders. Crawling for an exit from the ant nest, the butterfly sheds masses of white deciduous scales from its wing surface (left), antennae, and abdomen. The scales stick to the ants (top right), addling them to distraction. Only but terfly species that feed in ant nests have these deciduous scales, a remarkable adaptation. Once an escapee unfurls its wings to dry (right), it seeks a mate. Their eggs will be laid near a green tree ant nest, tar get of the next carnivo rous generation. I Hear the amplified thumps and grunts of Maculineaalcon cat erpillars inside a Myrmica ant nest, and see more photos of predatory caterpillars at national geographic.com/ngm/0306.