Animal Communication series

Chris Raper chris.raper at
Tue Nov 7 06:16:43 EST 2000

On Mon, 06 Nov 2000 14:09:38 GMT, Bridget.Appleby at wrote:

Hi Bridget

[cc'd to BA] I have posted this back to the group(s) because I think
we could get some interesting discussions going from this thread.

>I am writing from the Natural History Unit at the BBC. We are making a
>series of programmes called 'Charlotte Uhlenbroek talks to the
>Animals', which is about how animals communicate. We are looking for
>unusual and surprising stories about how animals communicate, and would
>be grateful for any ideas people could give us. 

This post was to the s.b.entomology.lepidoptera so your methods of
communication are going to be a bit simplistic. :-)  However, insects
do communicate with each other and with other things in many ways:

Many insects use pheromones to attract the opposite sex - sometimes
other over quite large distances. Many pheromones are available
commercially and could be obtained to see if you could attract things.

You could also include eye-spot and warning colouration, which shows
the insects communicating with their potential predators! :-)

I know you can also lure the large, metallic blue Morpho butterflies
using bits of blue tin-foil - I've done it and it can be quite fun :-)
The males come down for a closer examination - presumably to fight off
an intruder - one chap I know stuck some tin-foil in his hat and the
next thing he was getting beaten about the head by a huge blue
butterfly! That could be quite impressive - if your budget is up to
shipping Charlotte & the crew out to South America :-)

Other insect groups use sound (as in the grasshoppers & crickets) but
I can't think of many examples in the world of lepidoptera though. I
know the Central/South American Hamadryas spp. ('Crackers') make
clicking sounds in flight but I am not sure if this is comminication
between butterflies or to scare off predators.

I know Charlotte PhD'd in Chimp communication but it would be nice to
see a program that featured plenty of non-chimp stuff too :-)   I'll
post more examples if I can think of any...

Best wishes,
Chris R.


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