Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

El efecto de la recompensa y el patrón de colores en la alimentación de la mariposa en Lantana camara (Verbenaceae)



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Publication Date

November 2008


Lantana camara has inflorescences composed of young, nectar-producing yellow flowers surrounded by older orange flowers that no longer produce nectar (Moldenke 1973). We examined the relationship between L. camara and its butterfly pollinators to see if the preference for yellow flowers (Peters 1998) is innate or learned. Further, we altered the position of flower color on the inflorescence to see if the normal yellow-centered bull’s eye pattern increased visitation over other patterns. We collected data for butterflies foraging on L. camara with six patterns of yellow and orange flowers by painted these colors on the inflorescences. Next, we watched these same patterns with a 20% sucrose solution injected to all of the flowers on an inflorescence. Butterflies demonstrated an innate preference for yellow flowers as an addition of nectar to orange flowers showed no change in preference. Likewise, butterflies showed a preference for yellow flowers in all cases (df = 1, x2 = 4.734, p = 0.02). Varying the pattern of yellow and orange flowers in an inflorescence showed that butterflies prefer a solid yellow inflorescence. Therefore, it appears that the pattern of flower color and butterfly preference have not coevolved to enhance visitation and hence, pollination. While butterflies benefit from innately visiting yellow flowers most frequently, L. camara may increase pollinator visits by keeping its older flowers yellow in order to create a solid yellow inflorescence.


Las inflorescencias de Lantana camara están compuestas por las flores jóvenes amarillas que producen néctar, y las flores mas viejas de color naranja que no producen néctar. Nosotras examinamos la relación entre Lantana camara y las mariposas que polinizan esta planta, para observar si la preferencia por las flores amarillas es un comportamiento innato o aprendido. Además, alteramos la posición del color de las flores en la inflorescencia para observar si el patrón del objetivo con las flores amarillas en el centro aumenta la visita sobre los otros posibles patrones.


Butterflies--Behavior, Flowers--Morphology, Plants--Adaptation, CIEE Fall 2008

Palabras claves

Mariposas--Comportamiento, Flores--Morfología, Plantas--Adaptación, CIEE Otoño 2008


8 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





The effect of reward and color pattern on butterfly foraging in Lantana camara (Verbenaceae), November 2008



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