Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Flash Colors

  • Malcolm Edmunds
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3826

Flash colors are colors that are exposed when an animal moves but are hidden when it is at rest, e.g., the bright hind wings of underwing moths (Catocala, Triphaena), hawkmoths (Macroglossum), and grasshoppers (Trilophidia, Oedipoda) all make the insect conspicuous while it is flying but as soon as it comes to rest and folds its hind wings beneath the cryptic forewings, the color vanishes. It is thought that predators may initially be startled when a hitherto cryptic insect is disturbed and flies off, suddenly exposing bright colors. The predator may then follow the bright color as it flies, preparing to attack it, but when it lands and the color vanishes the predator is baffled because it was following the color rather than the insect. This is how flash colors are thought to work; they certainly deceive humans in this way, so it is reasonable to suppose that birds also may be deceived, but there has been no experimental demonstration that they reduce predation by natural predators.

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  1. Cott HB (1940) Adaptive coloration in animals. Methuen, London, UK, 508 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Edmunds M (1974) Defence in animals: a survey of anti-predator defences. Longman, Harlow, UK, 357 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm Edmunds
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Central LancashirePrestonUnited Kingdom