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Experimental Studies of Artificial Batesian Mimics

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1. The firefly, Photinus pyralis, has a distinctive color pattern of red, yellow, and black and is unpalatable to at least seven species of vertebrate predators. The beetle, Tenebrio molitor, is black and is palatable. 2. By using Photinus and Tenebrio and by glueing the prothorax or elytra of Photinus to the dorsal surface of Tenebrio, one can obtain insects of five different color patterns : (1) unmarked Tenebrio, (2) Tenebrio marked with the Photinus prothorax, (3) Tenebrio marked with the Photinus elytra, (4) Tenebrio marked with the Photinus prothorax and elytra, (5) unmarked Photinus. The marked Tenebrio are artificial Batesian mimics, patterned after the model Photinus. 3. Using the lizard, Anolis carolinensis, as a predator, one can determine which of the Batesian mimics will escape predation. 4. When tested together with unmarked Photinus, only the mimics marked with both the prothorax and elytra escape some predation; when tested together with unmarked Tenebrio, the mimics marked with elytra as well as those marked with both the elytra and prothorax escape some predation.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri


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