Journal Article

The position of eyespots and thickened segments influence their protective value to caterpillars

John Skelhorn, Giles Dorrington, Thomas J. Hossie and Thomas N. Sherratt

in Behavioral Ecology

Published on behalf of International Society for Behavioral Ecology

Volume 25, issue 6, pages 1417-1422
Published in print January 2014 | ISSN: 1045-2249
Published online August 2014 | e-ISSN: 1465-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/aru154
The position of eyespots and thickened segments influence their protective value to caterpillars

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Predators are more wary of model caterpillars with eyespots and false heads placed anteriorly than those with these traits placed centrally. Many real caterpillars have anterior segments containing eyespots, which they inflate to create a “false head” when attacked. These traits could intimidate predators because they are conspicuous or because they make caterpillars resemble snakes. Our results support the latter explanation because the position of traits influenced models’ resemblance to snakes but not their conspicuousness.

Keywords: antipredator; caterpillar; eyespot; mimicry; morphology; protective coloration.

Journal Article.  5627 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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