The Alcon Blue butterfly
Click here to find out about student projects
Pehgaris (formerly Maculinea) alcon, or the alcon blue to give its common name, is a lycaenid butterfly found in Europe and Asia. Like other members of the genus Phengaris, it has a very unusual life cycle. Eggs are laid on certain food plants on which the first three larval instars feed. However, the fourth instar leaves the plant, drops to the ground, and is "adopted" by an ant colony, where the caterpillar becomes a parasite of the ants.
Some of my current work at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark is into communication within and the specificity of the interactions of P. alcon with different Myrmica ants in Europe, particularly Denmark, and into the conservation of this species and Phengaris arion.
You can learn more about this work at the web site for the centre of social evolution.
I have produced a separate web site dealing with the work currently being carried out in our research group which may be reached by clicking here or on the graphic below.