The Influence of the eyespots of peacock butterfly (Aglais io) and caterpillar on predator recognition

JunSung Park, Dongwan Heo


The main purpose of this study is to verify or refute the famous existing theory that the eyespots found on the wings of various insects are a kind of imitation which triggers birds, the predator of insects, to have a sense of avoidance by making them recognize the insects as their predator. The first experiment was conducted on the peacock butterfly using models with eyespots and those without eyespots. A single butterfly model without eyespots was used as the control group, and a pair of a butterfly models with eyespots and another without eyespots was used as the treated group. The butterfly models were attached to trees and the survival rate of the models without eyespots was checked every hour. According to the results of the experiment, it is difficult to conclude that the eyespots of peacock butterfly trigger a sense of avoidance for birds as there was no significant difference in the numbers of the attacked peacock butterfly models without eyespots between the control group and the treated group. The second experiment was conducted using caterpillar models with eyespots and those without eyespots arranged in the same way as the first experiment. However, there was no statistically significant difference in the numbers of attacked caterpillar models between the control group of a caterpillar model without eyespots only and the treated group composed of a pair of caterpillar models without eyespots and the one with eyespots. Thus, the second experiment shows that the caterpillar with eyespots does not imitate the eyes of the predator and it indirectly supports the findings of the first experiment. Through the results of the two experiments, it is possible to refute the existing theory that the eyespots actually imitate the eyes of the natural enemy of the predator.


eyespots; imitation; peacock butterfly; caterpillar

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