Muller Butterfly Tiger Mimicry Complex 1

Muller Butterfly Tiger Mimicry Complex 1

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: An old collection of butterflies in the famous "tiger complex". This is a group of around 200 species of mostly toxic South American species which share a similar pattern of orange, cream and black with cream coloured antennae. A bird which eats one of these group may generalise the unpleasant experience to all its members. Where butterflies share a pattern and are toxic, the mimicry is considered Mullerian (Muller 1879). Where non-toxic species mimic toxic species for defence it is considered to be Batesian mimicry (Bates 1862). The tiger complex contains examples of both types of mimicry, with Mullerian being considered the dominant. The principle butterfly groups involved are the Ithomiids and Danaids, with representatives from families including Heliconids, Riodinids, Papilionids, Nymphalids and Pierids. Mimicry also contains behavioural elements such as wing fanning and aggregation.

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Keywords: bates, batesian, butterfly, colouration, defence, ithomids, mimic, mimicry, muller, mullerian, neotropical, south american, tiger complex, toxic

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