Butterfly Deception

Butterfly Deception

Without doubt, butterflies are mysterious insects that while beautiful and graceful to some are intimidating and to be avoided at all costs to others. For the natural predators of butterflies such as lizards, spiders, and birds, the vibrant colors and wonderful designs are a reminder of a bad-tasting species that should be avoided. . According to researchers some butterflies even have eyespots on their wings in order to trick would-be predators into thinking that the insect is a larger animal.

According to Katy Prudic, biologist at Oregon State University, these smart insects have different colors and scaled patterns on the underside of their wings. These colors and patterns enable them to blend in with the leaves or tree bark when taking a rest. Some species of butterflies have ultraviolet patterns that are visible only to other butterflies. This development helps them seek out the perfect mate.

In many species the deception starts early. Asia’s paper kite butterflies’ chrysalis, the hard protective covering that houses the caterpillar as it develops into a butterfly, is a gorgeous shiny golden color. According to Prudic the shine of the chrysalis is an ingenious camouflage. Prudic believes the brightness of the chrysalis is difficult for predators to spot amidst what she describes as a “complicated background.” Shiny exterior may also protect the chrysalis from birds who mistake it for a drop of water.

As a caterpillar the insect spends most of its time eating the leaves of the plant on which it hatched. Adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers, juice from rotting fruit and water from puddles. There are roughly 17,500 species of butterflies throughout the world. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Many butterfly species migrate to avoid adverse weather conditions. While most butterflies migrate short distances, monarchs and several other species migrate thousands of miles.



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