Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
Committee Member/Second Reader
Signaling in insects is used as communication and for attraction of mates. The physical appearance of the insect as well as conditions such as weather can play a role in visual signaling, by influencing the wavelengths of light available, and subsequent signal detection. We do not know, however, whether signals butterflies present broadly correlate with how they behave. In this study, we looked at the wing patterns and behavior of butterflies in Northwest Arkansas over a 3.5-year period to assess the relationship between wing pattern, weather, and behavior. We used observational data collected by hundreds of University of Arkansas students and Northwest Arkansas community members through surveys at both the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks and the general Northwest Arkansas region. We found that weather and wing color influenced general butterfly behavior. Butterflies were observed feeding more often on cloudy days than sunny days. Black and brown butterflies were observed feeding more often, while yellow and white butterflies were observed flying more often relative to other butterfly colors. We also found that there was an interaction between the effects of weather and wing color on butterfly behavior. White and yellow butterflies were observed feeding more and flying less on cloudy days than sunny days, relative to the other colors of butterflies. Furthermore, butterfly color influenced the choice of flower colors on which butterflies fed. More brown butterflies were observed on yellow flowers relative to other colors of butterflies. These results suggest that flower choice may be associated with butterfly wing pattern, and that different environmental conditions may influence butterfly behavior in wing-pattern-specific ways.
butterfly, pollinator, ambient light, wing pattern, visual signaling, community science
Merrill, A. (2022). Using Community Science to Assess the Effect of Wing Pattern and Weather on Butterfly Behavior. Animal Science Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/anscuht/53