Butterflies Named After Birds

All living things are familiar by their common names, which are derived from a number of factors. One of them is based on similarities between two different groups of animals in appearance or behavior. Some butterflies are named after birds.

Common Crow Butterfly: This butterfly is native to Australia. It is abundant in Queens land and is spread across northern and western Australia. Adults of this butterfly are dark brown or black. This is the probable reason why this butterfly (Euploea core Corinna) is named after the crow. The wingspan of the common crow butterfly is three inches. Hind margin of male’s forewing is bow shaped, that of female is straight. White spots mark the margins of wings. The caterpillar is orange brown with black and white stripes. When the caterpillar pupates, the chrysalis measures more than half an inch and is shiny black. The butterfly uses its color for protection from predatory birds.

Owl butterfly: This butterfly is found in rainforests of Central America. Its name is derived from the owl like eyes on the lower side of the hind wings. When the butterfly spreads wings, or holds wings vertical, the eye spot reveals an owlish stare. The butterfly escapes attack from smaller birds that are scared of owls. If however, the butterfly is chased by a bird, it quickly lands on a tree trunk. Its color pattern merges with tree bark and makes detection by the predators, difficult. Only the prominent eye spot on the wing will draw the attention of the bird. It works as a decoy, tempting the bird to attack. The butterfly may lose that portion of the hind wing where the eye spot is located. But it does not matter, the butterfly can still manage to escape and lead a normal life.

Peacock butterfly: This butterfly gets its name from the colorful, large eye spots on the wings. It is found in temperate zones of Europe and Asia. The eye spots resemble those on the Peacock tail feathers. The wingspan of the butterfly stretches to about three inches. Forewings are red with black stripes and have a large yellow and purple eyespot at the tip. Hind wings are reddish with a dark blue eye spot surrounded by a bright white ring. The body of the butterfly is dark reddish brown and covered by fine hairs. The Peacock butterfly uses the eye spot as a decoy and escapes from predators. The caterpillars are black, with white spots and have black spines along the back and sides.

Cuckoo Butterfly: The cuckoo butterfly (Maculina rebeli) is found in alpine meadows of Europe. It lays its white eggs on cross leaved gentian plants. Eggs hatch into larvae which feed on flowers to start with. Later, the caterpillar releases a scent and attracts a red ant (Myrmica schencki). The ant takes the caterpillar into the ant nest, where it lives like a cuckoo being fed by nurse ants. The caterpillar now releases chemicals specific to ant nest (behavioral mimicry) and draws greater attention from the ant colony. The cuckoo caterpillar pupates and metamorphoses into adult, which crawls out of the ant nest and flies away.

In the animal world mimicry is one of the potential means of protection and survival.