Watch: Carnivorous undercover caterpillar tricks ants

Will ants accept a caterpillar as their queen?

While ants are usually the ones eating caterpillars, there are a few carnivorous caterpillars in the world that are masters of deception.

The caterpillar in this BBC One video (Wild Isles), posted on Facebook, shows how a caterpillar releases a drop of honeydew from a gland on her back, encouraging a worker ant to tend to her. Honeydew is a secretion produced by certain insects that is sugar-rich and loved by ants.

The text that follows is a transcript of the video:

“Next, the caterpillar does something even more remarkable. She takes in air, inflating her body, and then releases it, making a sound that resembles the distress call of a queen ant. While she’s doing this, she bathes the worker ant in intoxicating pheromones. In response, the ant picks up the caterpillar and takes it back to the nest, as if rescuing it.

“Will the other ants accept the caterpillar as their queen? Amazingly, they do!

“Once inside the nest, the caterpillar can go wherever she likes. Surrounded by thousands of ants that could easily kill her, she finally gets the reward for her trickery. Over the next six months, the fake queen eats the defenceless ant larvae, until she is 100 times her original size.

“Having consumed almost all of the colony, she pupates and becomes a chrysalis.

“Nearly a year later, on a warm spring day, she performs her final trick. She emerges from her chrysalis as a large blue butterfly.”

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