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Pseudoscorpions Use Butterflies As A Form Of Airborne Transport

Pseudoscorpions Use Butterflies As A Form Of Airborne Transport

Some regions are crowded with bugs. This is a problem for particularly small bugs, who must compete for resources while avoiding death. For most small bugs, life in a region with a high arthropod population can be problematic, and there is no easy solution to this problem. Well for most bugs there is no easy solution, as pseudoscorpions manage to escape hostile and overcrowded environments by making the most of its resources. Imagine if there was a form of airborne travel for bugs wishing to relocate and start fresh in new environments that are rich with sustenance. Like airplanes, but for bugs. Well, for pseudoscorpions, these forms of airborne travel do exist in the form of butterflies. Believe it or not, but pseudoscorpions have evolved to hitch rides on butterflies in order to relocate to more agreeable habitats.

Every once in awhile researchers will stumble upon a recently developed butterfly only to find a pseudoscorpion using its pincers to grip the butterflies legs or anntenae. If you are a big fan of butterflies then don’t worry. Pseudoscorpions do not harm butterflies. Afterall, butterflies better serve pseudoscorpions by acting as airborne travel vessels. Pseudoscorpions are carnivorous and they do often consume mites, insect eggs and various forms of larvae. Pseudoscorpions can be found gripping parts of a butterfly because they know that butterflies may take off flying at any moment, and they do not want to lose their rides. Pseudoscorpions will secure a ride in a way that is similar to a human hijacking a car. The pseudoscorpion will use its pincers to grab the spines or head-horns of caterpillars. Soon after, the caterpillar pupates, and the pseudoscorpion remains attached to the shed skin which is also still attached to the pupa. Once a butterfly emerges from the pupa, the pseudoscorpion will hustle onto the butterfly and grip a body part. After a lengthy trip, the butterfly will land, at which point the pseudoscorpion releases itself and colonizes a new habitat. This form of hitch-hiking is referred to as “phoresy”.

Have you ever heard of any other insect that resorts to “phoresy”?