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New Survival Strategy for Butterflies

The young larval stages of the swallowtail butterfly now look more like bird droppings than a caterpillar with their intricate brown-and-white color pattern on their bodies. The older caterpillars blend in with leaves more easily, making the swallowtail butterfly extremely hard to be eaten by birds looking for a feast. Recently, scientists located the juvenile hormone responsible for these highly favorable color-pattern switches. By evolving this complex camouflage strategy of first mimicking bird droppings and then switching to blend in with leaves, these caterpillars have been able to escape the mouths of birds everywhere. After completing thorough testing, it has been determined that a change from an increase in the juvenile hormone to a decrease in the same hormone has induced these color switches and this form of regulation may be frequently present in insect larval stages.

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