Life is hard, especially if you’re a butterfly. Always feels like there is a target on your back. Turns out some of those targets (AKA wing eyespots) are useful to deflect attacks away from the butterfly’s vulnerable head and body. Having eyespots allows butterflies to live longer and lay more eggs. Surprisingly this deflection hypothesis has been difficult to support in behavioral experiments with birds and lizards. In fact, butterflies with eyespots tend to be eaten faster!
But eButterfly’s own Katy Prudic was able to show evidence for the deflection hypothesis with the squinting bush brown butterfly and mantid predators in a recent Proceedings of the Royal Society publication. It’s free to the public so download away! Also you can see a short movie with the butterflies and mantids or see Katy explain it on the eButterfly youtube channel. She’s also on Quirks and Quarks Sat 11/22 noon across Canada.
Enjoy all the ways to learn more about our scaled wing friends and remember the next time you see wing damage on a butterfly in your garden,it may be from avoiding a mantid, not a bird.