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deimatic display

A Dictionary of Animal Behaviour

David McFarland

deimatic display 

An evolutionary strategy in which an animal adopts a display designed to scare off a predator. For example, the caterpillar of the hawkmoth (Leucorampha sp.) normally rests upside down beneath a branch or leaf. When disturbed, it raises and inflates its head, the ventral surface of which has conspicuous eye-like marks, and the general patterning of which resembles the head of a snake. Many moths and butterflies have eye-spots on their wings, which they reveal suddenly when disturbed, with the possible effect of frightening the predator.

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