Investigation of the Differences in GC-FID Profiles of Genus Iridomyrmex Ant Volatiles and GC-EAD Responses of a Myrmecophilous Butterfly, Jalmenus evagoras (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)
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Jalmenus evagoras is an Australian-native butterfly. This myrmecophilous (antassociated) species of butterfly interacts with a host ant in a mutualistic relationship. The interaction is chemically based in which the ant emits volatiles that the butterfly uses as olfactory cues. These olfactory cues help distinguish the host ant from other species of ants and help promote speciation and reproductive isolation. In this experiment, volatiles of four ant species (18 colonies) were collected using solvent extraction. A gas chromatograph was coupled with an electroantennographic detection system (GC-EAD) that recorded responses of the butterfly antenna to the ant volatiles that eluted off the column of the GC. Results of the data showed that each of the four species' profiles was significantly different than the other species' profiles and that the butterfly antennae responded differently to each of the four ant species' volatile profiles. This gives evidence that there are host-specific butterflies that may be able to discriminate among ant species using olfactory cues when selecting egg-laying sites.