MacMan

Species

The Maculinea are lycaenid butterflies found in Europe and Asia. The ecology of all members of the Maculinea genus is unusually complex, involving vital associations between their larvae and particular species of red ants from the genus Myrmica. Eggs are laid on certain food plants on which the Maculinea larvae feed. The fourth larval instar leaves the plant, drops to the ground, and is "adopted" by ants which carry the caterpillar off into their nest, where the Maculinea caterpillar and pupae spends 11 or 23 months as a predator of the ant brood. Each Maculinea species depends on a specific food plant and a specific Myrmica ant host, the ants themselves displaying highly specific habitat requirements. For details see Elmes & Thomas (1992), or Thomas (1995).

More Information

Maculinea
Maculinea Species Initial Food Plant Myrmica Host Biotope

Maculinea arion
©Josef Settele

Thymus spp., Origanum vulgare
 

M. sabuleti
©Jeremy Thomas

warm , dry grassland
 

Maculinea rebeli

Gentiana cruciata
©Zoltan Varga

M. schencki., others?
©Jeremy Thomas

very dry grassland
©Zoltan Varga

Maculinea alcon
©David Nash

Gentiana pneumonanthe
©David Nash

M. rubra, scabrinodes, ruginodis
©David Nash

wet (acid) grassland
©Sarah Gwillym

Maculinea nausithous
©Josef Settele

Sanguisorba officinalis
©Sarah Gwillym

M. rubra
©David Nash

wet grassland, fen
©Sarah Gwillym

Maculinea teleius
©Josef Settele

Sanguisorba officinalis
©Holger Loritz

M. scabrinodes

wet grassland, fen
©Sarah Gwillym

Conservation status


Distribution of the five Maculinea species (based on Wynhoff 1998, updated with own data)

All five European Maculinea species occur in the Palaearctic region with their centre of distribution in Central to Eastern Europe. All Maculinea are in serious decline and are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being either 'endangered' or 'vulnerable' at global and European levels (IUCN, 1990). Each species is named in the European Red List (VanSwaay & Warren, 1999), and three are listed in annexes of the Habitats Directive (Van Helsdingen et al., 1996; Table B 1).

Biology and Conservation Status of the European Maculinea species

sources: * Van Swaay & Warren (1999); ** Thomas (1995), *** IUCN (2000)

Maculinea species Habitats Directive

(Annex)

European Conserv. Status * Global / European threat *,***

M. arion

+ (IV)

SPEC 3

LR(nt) / EN
M. rebeli - SPEC 1 VU / -
M. alcon - SPEC 3 LR(nt) / VU
M. nausithous + (II&IV) SPEC 3 LR(nt) / VU
M. teleius + (II&IV) SPEC 3 LR(nt) / VU

SPEC 1: Species of global conservation concern; highest conservation importance in EU; SPEC 3: Species threatened in Europe, headquarters both within and outside Europe; EN: Endangered; VU: Vulnerable; LR(nt): Lower Risk (near threatened); taxa which are close to qualifying for Vulnerable (EN, VU & LR: new IUCN categories)

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