A within-species warning function for an aposematic signal

Daniel R. Papaj, Ginny M. Newsom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aposematic, or warning, signals are generally interspecific in form: one species advertises noxiousness to a predator or parasite species. In a study of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor), we show that a pattern of colouration in the caterpillars that is considered to be aposematic in the context of attack by natural enemies also deters oviposition by conspecific females. In field and laboratory assays, females avoided oviposition on plants bearing live conspecific larvae. Females avoided oviposition on plants bearing artificially constructed models identical to larvae in shape, size and colour pattern. Finally, oviposition on plants harbouring a model bearing the larval colour pattern was reduced relative to plants bearing a leaf-green model, suggesting that the larval colour pattern was essential for avoidance. We discuss how intraspecific and interspecific processes might interact in the evolution of an aposematic signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2519-2523
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1580
StatePublished - Dec 7 2005


  • Aposematism
  • Crypsis
  • Host-marking behaviour
  • Oviposition
  • Predator avoidance
  • Warning colouration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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