Lycaena xanthoides - Great Copper (Lycaenidae) &
Liometopum occidentale
California, USA

photograph © Alex Wild 2006

The larvae of many species of Lycaenid butterflies are associated with ants.  Here a pair of Lycaena caterpillars are being tended by velvety tree ants (Liometopum occidentale).  The caterpillars produce a substance attractive to the ants, and the ants provide protection from predators and parasites.

USA, CA: Kern Co. 
Greenhorn Mtns. Sawmill Road. Stable Creek at milepost 5.54. 1340m. 35.66838°N, 118.52967°W

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 20D, using a Canon 65/2.8 MPE 1-5x Macro lens.