The rove beetle genus Drusilla includes some myrmecophilous species. The Japanese species Drusilla sparsa (Sharp, 1874) has been regarded as a non-myrmecophilous beetle. In Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku Island, western Japan, however, we often observed that D. sparsa adults were walking in the vicinity of foraging workers of the myrmicine ant Crematogaster osakensis Forel, 1990. The body color of the beetle is similar to C. osakensis as in other myrmecophilous beetles found near the trails of the host ants. To examine whether D. sparsa is myrmecophilous, we investigated the distribution of D. sparsa and C. osakensis in the field, as well as their behavior including prey preference of the beetle in the laboratory. Drusilla sparsa beetles were collected only in sites where C. osakensis ants occurred. When the beetles encountered the ant workers, they bent the abdominal tip toward the ants. The ants licked the abdominal tip, and then the beetles usually walked away. Such behavioral reaction of the ants was not observed when the beetles encountered workers of the formicine ant Nylanderia flavipes (Smith, 1874) that continuously attacked the beetles. Drusilla sparsa preferred to feed on dead workers of C. osakensis even when other ants were available as food, indicating that D. sparsa is a myrmecophilous species associated with C. osakensis. Crematogaster osakensis was frequently found in the stomach in the ant predator, the Japanese treefrog Hyla japonica Günther, 1859. Thus, the significance of body color similarity between the host ants and beetles is not a case of Batesian mimicry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science