In our Animal Defense series we have talked about camouflage. Although it was probably a pretty basic defense, you probably didn’t think that there are actually creatures that don’t want to be camouflaged.
Your mind is probably asking the question, “what animals want to be seen by their predators?” The kingsnake, milk snake, the viceroy butterfly (pictured above) and many more. These creatures want to be seen because they have a defense mechanism that makes predators run . . . away!
These creatures have one thing in common: they all look like a different creature which is poisonous. The kingsnake (specifically the scarlet kingsnake) impersonates the coral snake, as does the milk snake. Both of these creatures were designed with a slightly different pattern from the very poisonous coral snake.
The coral snake is extremely poisonous and predators quickly learn not to mess with it so, when they see a kingsnake or milk snake strutting their stuff, they hit the road in the other direction. Nobody wants to mess with a meal that could kill them with a single bite!
The viceroy butterfly, on the other hand, looks exactly like the monarch butterfly but it has one difference that matters for predators: it doesn’t eat milkweed.
When a predator eats a monarch butterfly for the first time, he will have a bad taste in his mouth and a bellyache to remember! The viceroy butterfly was designed with the look of a monarch butterfly so experienced predators know not to touch a creature that looks like a monarch.
Each of these defenses are something the creatures could have never done on their own (don’t believe me? Read about the Atlas moth). So, to grasp the lies of what evolution has taught you, watch the following: