Butterfly eyespots III. Deflect and sacrifice.

I described in my first blog on butterfly eyespots (Conspicuousness or eye-mimicry?) how they can be effective at deterring predators from attacking them, although the jury is still out as to whether this happens because the eyespots are highly conspicuous, startling signals, or whether it is because they genuinely fool predators into thinking that they…

How to build a butterfly!

The upper wing surfaces of butterflies are often brightly coloured and visually highly apparent (above), whilst the undersides are usually fairly dull and inconspicuous (below). Although this characterisation is a gross generalisation – there are plenty of exceptions – these differences between the two wing surfaces, do reflect their contrasting functions: upper surfaces are used…

Eyespots as deflection devices?

There are two theories about eyespots on lepidopteran wings. The first is that large conspicuous eyespots can startle or intimidate predators into not attacking, or at least deter them long enough for the insect to make an escape. The other theory, is that they deflect the point of attack, e.g. a peck, away from the…

Peck me here! Butterfly predation.

It is said that  50% of wild butterflies are killed and eaten before they get a chance to mate and reproduce (1). Poor things! One way to avoid being eaten is to divert the lethal pecks of predatory birds towards body parts that can be sacrificed in the interests of survival. Obtaining direct evidence for…