Two images showing the same butterfly species in wet season and dry season

Why do butterflies change their wing pattern with the seasons?

Sridhar Halali, graduate student researcher, writes:

“While wandering amid the forests of India, I had always been struck by a few butterfly species, which seemed to exhibit different wing patterns in the wet and dry seasons.

This is called ‘seasonal polyphenism’, and I found out subsequently that this phenomenon is one of the adaptations to the seasons experienced in the tropics.

The wet season form has conspicuous rings called ‘eyespots’ which fool predators like birds, by deflecting their attacks, while the dry season form is highly cryptic and camouflages well with the forest floor.

My PhD research focuses on when (millions of years ago!) and what factors drove the evolution of seasonal polyphenism in a group of tropical butterflies. In-depth knowledge of how seasonal polyphenism works may also help in predicting impacts of climate change on these butterflies.”


Discover more about the Radiating Butterflies Group here

One thought on “Why do butterflies change their wing pattern with the seasons?

  1. interesting story. Little Gazers is from Sri Lanka.
    we too have spotted this butterfly shown in the wet season picture (In September , which is the wet season for western province) , never thought it is changing the color… should keep an eye next time
    Thanks

    Like

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