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  • Brief Communication
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Beetle larvae cooperate to mimic bees

These parasites get into bees' nests by fooling males into trying to mate with them.


The life cycles of parasites often involve complex behavioural and morphological adaptations in order to find a host. Here we report a remarkable mode of host-finding by the blister beetle Meloe franciscanus, in which young larvae aggregate together on vegetation to mimic the appearance of a female bee, luring male bees to land on them and collect the aggregation as a unit for transmitting to females during real matings. Although cooperative behaviour is common among highly social insects, particularly bees1,2,3, to our knowledge it has not been reported before in blister beetles, nor has it been associated with mimicry.

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Figure 1: Interaction of Meloe franciscanus triungulin aggregations and the bee Hapropoda pallida.

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Correspondence to John Hafernik.

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Hafernik, J., Saul-Gershenz, L. Beetle larvae cooperate to mimic bees. Nature 405, 35–36 (2000).

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