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Predation on butterflies

Black-patched metalmark (Lasaia agesilas)  with damaged hind wing
Black-patched metalmark (Lasaia agesilas) with damaged hind wing

Many butterflies we see happily flying around are not perfect specimens! Far from it; they often have chunks missing from their wings; presumably as a result of some lucky escape from a pecking bird. Such imperfections often only become noticeable in photographs, as these two examples show. Yet these are survivors; their camoflague, or behaviour, has been sufficient to allow these individuals to escape predation and to have the possibility of mating and passing on their genes to their offspring (assuming that they are still attractive to their mates!). Such is the stuff of evolution, the predators in this case acting as selectors of the best camoflagued against the existing environment; the strongest or the fleetest. I like to think we are all survivors of sorts, with out aging beauty or imperfect bodies still capable of going on to fulfil our destinies!

Chocolate pansy (Junonia iphita) with symmetrically damaged hind wings
Chocolate pansy (Junonia iphita) with symmetrically damaged hind wings


rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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