The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

African ant blues



Quick facts

Project title: 
From host plants to host ants: Evolution of phyto-predation in butterflies
ZFMK Project lead: 


This project studies the life history evolution of African butterflies in the genus Lepidochrysops. Unlike 99% of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), the species in this genus are phyto-predaceous: caterpillars initially feed on flowers, but eventually lose interest in the plant and are carried by ants into the brood chamber of the nest. Here they either eat the brood directly, or are fed mouth-to-mouth like cuckoos for the remainder of their development.

I'm currently inferring the phylogeny of the group and looking into life history evolution and biogeographical patterns


Contact person

Head of section
+49 228 9122-220
+49 228 9122-212
m.espeland [at]