An eye for an eye – on the generality of the intimidating quality of eyespots in a butterfly and a hawkmoth
2007 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, ISSN 0340-5443, Vol. 61, no 9, 1419-1424 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Large eyespots on the wings of butterflies and moths have been ascribed generally intimidating qualities by creating a frightening image of a bird or mammal much larger than the insect bearing the eyespots. However, evidence for this anti-predator adaptation has been largely anecdotal and only recently were peacock butterflies, Inachis io, shown to effectively thwart attacks from blue tits, Parus caeruleus. Here we test whether large eyespots on lepidopterans are generally effective in preventing attacks from small passerines, and whether the size of insect or bird can influence the outcome of interactions. We staged experiments between the larger eyed hawkmoths, Smerinthus ocellatus, and the smaller peacock butterflies, I. io, and the larger great tits, Parus major, and the smaller blue tits, P. caeruleus. Survival differed substantially between the insect species with 21 of 24 peacocks, but only 6 of 27 eyed hawkmoths, surviving attacks from the birds. Thus, surprisingly, the smaller prey survived to a higher extent, suggesting that other factors than insect size may be important. However, great tits were less easily intimidated by the insects’ eyespots and deimatic behaviour and consumed 16 of 26, but the blue tits only 8 of 25 of the butterflies and hawkmoths. Our results demonstrate that eyespots per se do not guarantee survival, and that these two insects bearing equally large eyespots are not equally well protected against predation.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 61, no 9, 1419-1424 p.
eyespots; predation; predator; prey; butterfly
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-22842DOI: 10.1007/s00265-007-0374-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-22842DiVA: diva2:189613
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-12192006-08-242006-08-242014-10-28Bibliographically approved