Insects resort to mimicry for sheer survival

December 19th, 2011 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 19 (IANS) Insects resort to camouflage to resemble inanimate objects to evade attacks by predators, especially at the larval stage, reveals a study.

Researchers have uncovered evidence of insects using mimicry and thereby increasing their chances of survival.

Mimicry involves one specie evolving similar warning colour patterns to another, the journal The Annals of the Entomological Society of America reported.

“Mimicry in general is one of the best and earliest-studied examples of natural selection, it can help us learn where evolutionary adaptations come from,” said researcher Keith Willmott from University of Florida, who led the study.

Bright warning coloration has evolved in many insects, with physical or chemical defences and further research into how insects metabolize plant toxins for their own benefit has potential use in the medical field, said a university statement.

“It is very interesting how caterpillars can detoxify a plant’s poisonous chemicals and resynthesize them for their own chemical defence or for pheromones,” said study co-author Andrei Sourakov.

Based on the number of eggs laid by a single female butterfly, scientists estimate about 99 percent of caterpillars die before reaching the pupal stage.

Survival tactics of the insects include sharp spines, toxic chemicals and hairs accompanied by bright warning coloration.

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