How do insects avoid being eaten by birds?

More than any other group of animals, insects are masters of 'aposematism' - they use bright colouration to warn birds that they are poisonous.

31st July 2014
How do insects avoid being eaten by birds? (iStock)

Asked by: Nigel Evans, York

Lots of insects hide in burrows and only emerge at night, or use camouflage to avoid detection. But, more than any other group of animals, insects are also masters of the opposite strategy called aposematism. These insects use bright colouration to warn birds that they are poisonous. A 2013 study at Newcastle University found that birds still sometimes eat brightly coloured insects if they judge that the nutritional benefit outweighs the cost of dealing with the toxins.

 


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