Citizen Science Project:
Resemblances--Caterpillars and Wings

Five Examples of Larva/Adult Resemblances

from Darryl Wheye and Paul R. Ehrlich's 2015 article, Are there caterpillars on butterfly wings?
(News of the Lepidopterists' Society, Winter, Vol. 57(4) pp. 182-193).

    Fig. 2. Adult and aposematic larva thought to be chemically protected. The pink markings of the adult male Parides photinus (Pink-spotted Cattleheart) are limited to the body and the larval band. The larvae feed on Aristolochia grandiflora and A. asclepiadifolia (Pelican Flower). It is reported that consuming terpenes in A. grandiflora makes the larvae unpalatable. The plant also contains the poisonous compound aristolochic acid. Note that the larva in the photograph has been extracted from the background and modified into a shape similar to the marks on the hindwing (lower right). [Left and upper right] © 2007, 2009 Luc Legal, Jerome Albre and Oscar Dorado.

    Fig. 3. Adult and larva with chemically protective osmeteria and false eyespots. Under perceived threat the larvae of Papilio spp (swallowtail butterflies) may assume a warning posture and evert their fleshy osmeteria. Here a P. glaucus (Tiger Swallowtail) larva has partially everted its osmeteria. The bluish-greenish dorsal hindwing larval band with its large terminal orange spot seems to resemble a larva with osmeteria partially everted (a second orange spot is concealed by the forewing.). Note that the larva in the photograph has been extracted from the background, modified (lower right) and superimposed over the left hindwing. The blue-green coloration of the overlay has been adjusted for effect. [Left] © Jeff Pippen; [Upper right] © Michael Singer.

    Fig. 4. Adult and edible mimic of urticating larva (those with defensive bristles that cause itching and irritation). Emesis mandana (Variable Emesis) larvae are among hundreds of possible mimics of urticating caterpillars, which visually hunting predators apparently learn to avoid. Might predators be warned off adult Variable Emesis, too? Note that the larva (penultimate instar) has been extracted from the background, modified (lower right) and superimposed over the right hindwing. [Left] © Kim Garwood, [Upper right] © D. Janzen and W. Hallwachs, voucher code: 05-SRNP-63174

    Fig. 5. Adult and co-occurring but unrelated chemically protected larva. The wings of Danaus plexippus (Monarch) do not include elements that resemble the often chemically protected Monarch larva, but in some geographic areas adults typically migrate beyond the range of predators that could have learned to avoid the larval pattern. Monarch adults might, however, benefit from the dot pattern on their wing margin if predators learn to avoid dot-patterned larvae like those of Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail) (upper right) that feed on toxic pipevine species, sequestering poisonous aristolochic acid. Note that the larva in the photo- graph has been isolated, modified (lower right) and superim- posed over the left hindwing. Also note that while the dots on the pipevine larva are orange and those on the Monarch are generally white, if viewed in low light—when birds are apt to forage—the color mismatch may go undetected. [Left] © Bill Bouton; [Upper right] © 2008 Wanda Smith.