Bumblebees confused by iridescent colors

ScienceDaily | 5/25/2018 | Staff
vegdancer18 (Posted by) Level 3
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It is common in nature, from the dazzling blues of peacock's feathers, to the gem-like appearance of insects.

Although using bright flashy colours as camouflage may seem counterintuitive, researchers at the Bristol Camo Lab found that intense iridescence obstructs the bumblebee's ability to identify shape. The eyes of bumblebees have been extensively studied by scientists and are very similar to those of other insects.

Model - Insects - Wasps - Hornets - Types

They can be used as a visual model for predatory insects such as wasps and hornets. When presented with different types of artificial flower targets rewarded with sugar water, the bees learned to recognise which shapes contained the sweet reward.

However, they found it much more difficult to discriminate between flower shape when the targets were iridescent.

Study - Bumblebees - Model - Predatory - Insect

This current study using bumblebees as a model for (predatory) insect vision and cognition is the first to show that iridescence indeed has the potential to deceive predators and make them overlook the prey, the same way disruptive camouflage would work to break up the otherwise recognisable outline of a prey.

The changing colours make the outline of the prey look completely different to the shape the predators are searching for.

Researchers - Iridescence - Signals - Predators - Occurrence

The researchers concluded that iridescence produces visual signals which can confuse potential predators, and this may explain its widespread occurrence in nature.

Lead author Dr Karin Kjernsmo of the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, said: "It's the first solid evidence we have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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