Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]


Genevieve Mauro



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Publication Date

September 2002


Butterflies have evolved morphological and behavioral characteristics that are thought to inhibit predation. This study ties wing characteristics, flight patterns and speeds, and activity patterns of butterflies with their palatability. Wing loading, wing toughness, scale density, flight speed, sporadicity, wing flaps, and behaviors such as feeding, resting, flying, and chasing were all compared for palatable species and unpalatable species of butterflies in Costa Rica. Palatable butterflies were found to have faster flight and higher sporadicity than unpalatable butterflies. No significant trends were found with wing loading, wing toughness, or scale density. Also, three species that differ in natural history and defensive strategies were specifically examined (Heliconius clysonymus, Morpho peleides, and Caligo Memnon). Their behavior patterns were significantly different as well as their wing flaps per second, suggesting that butterflies engage in activities that enhance their defense strategies. Palatable butterflies spend more time resting than unpalatable butterflies, while the unpalatable butterflies spend most of their time flying and eating. These results suggest that selective pressures placed on butterflies by visual predators have affected the life strategies used by the butterflies.


Las mariposas han evolucionado características morfológicas y conductuales que se crea que inhiben predación. Este estudio relaciona características de las aulas, patrones de vuelo y velocidades, y patrones de actividad de mariposas con agradabilidad. Cargar de aulas, la dureza de las aulas, la densidad de las escamas, esporadicidad, batires de las aulas, y conductas como comer, descansar, volar, y perseguir fueron comparadas para especies agradables y especies desagradables de las mariposas de Costa Rica. Las mariposas agradables tenían velocidad más rápido y sporadicidad más alta que las mariposas desagradables. No había una tendencia significativa con cargar de aulas, la dureza de las aulas, o la densidad de escamas. También, tres especias que son diferentes en historia natural y estrategias defensas fueron observados más expresamente (Heliconius clysonymus, Morpho peleides, y Caligo memnon). Todas sus patrones de conducta fueron apreciablemente diferentes, y sus batires de aulas. Esto proponen que mariposas hacen actividades que mejoran sus estrategias defensas. Mariposas agradables pasan más tiempo descansando que mariposas desagradables. Al mismo tiempo, las mariposas desagradables pasan la mayoria del tiempo volando y comiendo. Estos resultados proponen que presiones selectivas que predadores visuales ponen en las mariposas han afectado las estrategias de vida usados por las mariposas.


11 pages

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Palatability and anti-predation strategies in Costa Rican butterflies, September 2002



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