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Taken at Cockrell Butterfly center Houston Tx
An owl butterfly is a butterfly, in the genus Caligo, known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls' eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America.
Owl butterflies are very large, 65200 mm (2.67.9 in), and fly only a few metres at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place.
The underwing pattern is highly cryptic. It is conceivable that the eye pattern is a generalized form of mimicry. It is known that many small animals hesitate to go near patterns resembling eyes with a light-colored iris and a large pupil, which matches the appearance of the eyes of many predators that hunt by sight. The main predators of Caligo are apparently small lizards such as Anoli
Research of Stevens et al. (2008), however, suggests that eye-spots are not a form of mimicry and do not deter predators because they look like eyes. Rather the conspicuous contrast in the patterns on the wings deter predators. In this study, however, the influence of surrounding forms, like the head region of a predator, was not tested. Also the question why animals evolved such complex imitations of other species is left unanswered
There are some 20 species in this genus
February 7th, 2014
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