What do butterflies signal with their colorful patterns?

 The colorful patterns on butterflies' wings strike us as attractive, so it can be hard to accept that they often serve to repulse and deter predators. When a butterfly comes to rest on a blade of grass or a flower, we usually see only the unspectacular, grey-brown undersides of its wings. When the butterfly suddenly spreads its wings, the bright colors on the wing's upper surface become visible. In some cases-such as with the peacock butterfly-the markings are remarkably similar in appearance to mammalian eyes. The hope is that a potential predator will be startled, or at least made to hesitate momentarily, giving the butterfly sufficient time to escape.

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