Survival Through Mimicry: The Viceroy Butterfly
The survival of Viceroy butterflies in all of their life stages is significantly enhanced by mimicry. A Viceroy egg resembles a tiny plant gall. Both larva and pupa bear a striking resemblance to bird droppings. And the similarity of a Viceroy to a Monarch is well known. For years it was thought that this mimicry was Batesian in nature – a harmless organism (Viceroy) mimicking a poisonous (Monarch) or harmful one in order to avoid a mutual predator. However, recently it’s been discovered that the Viceroy butterfly is as unpalatable as the Monarch, which means that mimicry in its adult stage is technically Mullerian – both organisms are unpalatable/noxious and have similar warning mechanisms, such as the adult butterfly’s coloring.
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.