The plain tiger enjoys a celebrity status of being the first butterfly in the recorded history. It was depicted in a painting, with its distinct colors and patterns, in the tomb of Nebamun in Egypt, circa 1350 BCE – that’s more than 3300 years before!

oriental plain tiger, male at korlai, maharashtra

It’s a tiger not merely in its stripes and colors. It is a terror to potential predators too! Their bodies contain toxic alkaloids from plants, which they have devoured as a larvae. Birds and predators memorize and associate the unsavoriness of these butterfly species with their patterns and habits, and try to avoid them. This, in turn, is found to have evolutionary consequences in other “edible” butterflies, which ended up mimicing similar colors and patterns in order to escape from the predators.

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