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ScienceShot: Black-and-White Butterflies Show Their True Colors

Women notice flashy, well-dressed gentlemen. But so do thieves, eager for an obvious target. The same holds true in the animal kingdom: colorful males get the girls, but they may also become lunch. At least that's the case with birds, reptiles, and other vertebrates. To see if insects face the same tradeoff, researchers turned to the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae). Although males appear black-and-white to the human eye (left wing), females see a multitude of colors thanks to their broad range of UV vision (right wing). That helps the males score a mate, the team reports online this month in The American Naturalist—but it also puts them in danger. Birds, it turns out, see the males the same way that the cabbage white females do.

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