Monday Night Mystery

What's this?

Five points for picking the family, five points for the genus.  And infinity points for figuring out what the those balloon-like structures are for. I have no idea.

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I nominate Polyergus for the worst common name among ants: Amazon Ants.  I'm cranky this morning and for some reason this has been irking me. I now know they were named for their habit of raiding other ant nests, but I spent much of my childhood thinking they were some exotic tropical creature…
What's this? 2 points for naming the structure, 4 for family, and 4 for genus/species. The cumulative points winner for the month of May will win either 1) any 8x10 print from my insect photo galleries, or 2) a guest blog post on the (safe-for-work) topic of their choosing.
Tonight's mystery is a straight-up Name That Bug: From central Florida, the mystery insect One point for picking the order, two points for family, five points for genus, and five points for species. [added in edit- you've got to be first in any one category]. And guess what? We've finally decided…
Maybe half of my audience here will be familiar with this problem. You're a man, and you're hauling this massive, ummm, package around in your pants everywhere you go. Other men fear you, while the women worship you…yet at the same time, your e-mail is stuffed to bursting with strange people…

Riodinidae , genus is Theope. Yay, I got one!

Ooh, and do i get extra points for saying that it's being attended by Azteca velox? I'm really excited right now.

"In these obligate symbioses the

exaggerated balloon setae surrounding the head of

Theope caterpillars (figure 1) appear important in med-

iating associations with dolichoderine ants by providing

semiochemical stimuli to ant symbionts (DeVries 1997)."

From "Ancient butterfly-ant symbiosis: direct evidence from Dominican amber" (DeVries and Poinar 1997).

Gosh, is this the DeVries who has some show on Animal Planet?

Gosh. Infinity points. I'm not even sure how to start giving those out!

I found something that refutes that and says they're "used to store and disperse a noxious chemical when the caterpillar or pupa is grabbed by a predator, rather than to facilitate a symbiotic relationship with ants, as previously suggested." I can't access it, but you might.…

Well, time to get to my homework, then!

some caterpillar