Mimicry – The Owl Butterfly

I was so impressed by the mimic octopus during class that I decided to write about mimicry. As I was looking up topics to write about, I came across a species known as the Owl Butterfly. The name suggests that it only mimics one type of animal, but when looked at closely, they mimic the side of a reptile or amphibian head as well ( at the top part on each side of their wings). This is interesting because this butterfly’s main predator is a lizard. These patterns would make predators think twice about diving in for a kill; should it really be the eyes of a winged predator, they would face death. This pattern is located below their grayish brown wings on the top, possibly because they reside above their main predator. I’m not quite sure if it’s because of their camouflage that now these small lizards are the main predators of if they were always feeding on these butterflies.

The Owl Butterfly is located in the Caligo genus ( the full name of the species is Caligo memnon) and has a large wingspan of  2.6-7.9 inches. The species under this genus, like the owl butterfly, are all known for their huge eye spots, but the latin name of Caligo itself means darkness. They were given this name because they are night “owls” (did you notice that pun?), active early in the morning and late in the evening. The owl butterfly is located in North, Central, and South America. They spend 60 days as a caterpillar and 22-30 days as a chrysalis. There are about 5 species groups under the Caligo genus and around 20 species in total under these 5 groups. It’s interesting how so many can exist and all look different to mimic different owls as well. The mimic game of the Owl Butterfly may not be as strong as the Mimic Octopus, but it’s still quite interesting to see another animal mimicking more than two animals.

butterfly-owl-or-snake

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