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The white 'comma' as a distractive mark on the wings of comma butterflies
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7303-5632
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4719-487X
2013 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, Vol. 86, no 6, 1325-1331 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Distractive marks have been suggested to prevent predator detection or recognition of a prey, by drawing the attention away from recognizable traits of the bearer. The white 'comma' on the wings of comma butterflies, Polygonia c-album, has been suggested to represent such a distractive mark. In a laboratory experiment using blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus, as predators, we show that the comma increased survival, since the blue tits attacked butterflies with overpainted commas more often than sham-painted butterflies with intact commas. In a field experiment we placed hibernating, similarly manipulated, comma butterflies on tree trunks of two different species and noted their survival. Although survival was higher on birch trees than on oak trees, there was no effect of treatment, probably because the butterflies were preyed on by both diurnal and nocturnal predators and the latter are unlikely to attend to small conspicuous markings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 86, no 6, 1325-1331 p.
Keyword [en]
antipredator defence, bird, butterfly, distractive mark, hibernation, Polygonia c-album, predator
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-98072DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.10.003ISI: 000327537800024OAI: diva2:682799
Swedish Research Council, 621-2007-5976Swedish Research Council, 621-2010-5579


Available from: 2013-12-30 Created: 2013-12-27 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Olofsson, MartinWiklund, Christer
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