Why do Some Butterfly Species have Eyes on Wings

Some butterfly species, such as the small brown butterfly, possess eye-like markings on their wings. These wing markings are typically called false eyes, eyespots, or false eyespots and may occur in different colors and sizes. These can be easily differentiated, as they are circular and made of concentric rings. While different patterns have evolved to help the butterflies hide from predators, these conspicuous markings help butterflies to

Butterfly with Eyes on Wings

Butterfly with Eyes on Wings

1. Intimidate Predators

The eyespots mimic the eyes of a large predator and are used for deterring any potential attacker. It makes the attacker think that it is up against a potentially dangerous animal. Some species, like the grayling, hide their eyespots at rest but expose them only when a potential predator is nearby.

2. Deflect an Attack

Instead of preventing the attack entirely, some butterfly species make use of their eyespots to distract potential predators. The eye-like markings draw the attention of the attacking animal and encourage it to aim for body parts, such as the edge of wings, which are not crucial for its survival. Squinting bush brown butterfly is one such butterfly species that use its eyespots for deflecting a predator’s attack.

Interesting Facts

  • Blue butterflies possess filamentous ‘tails’ at the edge of their wings, which combined with the markings create an impression of a “false head”. It misdirects predators like jumping spiders and birds.