Attacking their own - weird butterfly aggression
September 9, 2021 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Male milkweed butterflies feeding on catarpillars SLNYT but should be viewable. Fascinating article about a pair of butterfly enthusiasts who inadvertently discovered some very aggressive behavior.
posted by leslies (6 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

kleptopharmacophagy -- now there's a word of the year. Nature ichor in proboscis and claw.
posted by y2karl at 11:35 AM on September 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

We take the swallow tail butterfly caterpillars on our dil and put them in a terrarium. We have seen big ones just suck little ones dry.

So we keep them terrarium loaded with dil.

We cage them or the wasps and birds go to town on them. When they become butterflies off into the wild!
posted by Max Power at 3:12 PM on September 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yeah I'm reading that neologism and thinking "wow, that's a great example of the stresses induced by settler-colonialism, resource exploitation on ecosystem" and I mean great in the original sense of the term.
posted by symbioid at 12:42 AM on September 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

In a way, this research recapitulates in behavioral terms the experience many people have when they first encounter butterflies, in that you see the beautiful wings, but when you look closely you're taken aback by the grotesque giant fly-like body the wings grow out of -- and then you read that all this beauty exists to make the poisoning they experience more memorable to the unfortunate birds who happen to try to eat one of them!

And yet there may be a covenantal aspect to all these complex rainbows of beautiful colors, because if the poisons become too potent, they kill the predator instead of teaching them a lesson, and then the next predator that comes along is just as likely to kill you as the first naive one was. That doesn't help the first victim of course, but that one probably has many sibs who do benefit.
posted by jamjam at 2:30 AM on September 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

a great example of the stresses induced by settler-colonialism

I googled "kleptopharmacophagy" a bit. There's been a lot written in the last couple of days! But I have not seen any reference to a theory that the behavior is a result of stress. Do you mean you think the behavior is post-colonial or it's just a good metaphor?
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 5:26 AM on September 10, 2021

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