Maculinea arion - Large Blue
Maculinea arion male / Large Blue male / Tijmblauwtje of groot blauwtje mannetje / Schwarzfleckiger(Schwarzgefleckter) Ameisen-Bläuling oder Quendel-Meisenbläuling männchen / L'Argus Bleu à Bandes Brunes ou L'Azuré du serpolet mâle.
Pregnant Large Blue females will lay their eggs only on wild thyme buds, which young caterpillars feed exclusively on until they are ready to seek out a red ant nest. Red ant nests are usually located under or around wild thyme plants. When the caterpillar is ready, it will drop itself off the wild thyme plant and wait to be picked up by a passing red ant, which will then carry it to its nest. The red ant strokes the caterpillar with its antenna, making the caterpillar produce a small drop of honeydew. This action is called "milking", which the ant continues to do until the caterpillar raises half of its body into the air. When this happens, the red ant picks the caterpillar up with its jaws and takes it into its nest. Once inside the red ant's nest, the ants will stroke the caterpillars with their antenna. After a while, the Large Blue caterpillar secretes more honeydew on which the red ants and their young feed. Soon after this process is complete, the caterpillar will seek out the nesting chambers and proceed to eat red ant eggs and larvae. When winter draws near, the Large Blue caterpillar begins to hibernate.