Partner quality can be crucial for the outcome of a mutualistic interaction
. In multi-species associations, the characteristics of potential partners
can vary substantially and thus the associated benefits. As a consequence o
f such variation, one might expect strategies of adjusting investments to t
he characteristics of a partner. Lycaenid butterfly larvae often interact m
utualistically with several ant species of different size and aggressivenes
s and thereby different ability to protect the larvae. Attending ants are r
ewarded with nutritious secretions. Both ant behavior and a larva's need fo
r protection are known to influence larval investment in the relationship.
This study investigates the effect of six ant species on larval behavior in
the lycaenid butterfly, Glaucopsyche lygdamus. The overall level of secret
ion, as well as the response to varying number of attending ants, were foun
d to be influenced by ant species.