By Wendy LanghansFour years ago, when we
were in the market for a new car, one of my criteria was that it "corner"
well. My work often takes me into the
mountains surrounding LA and I needed a nimble car that could handle curvy mountain
roads. The other criteria was that it be
colorful – easy to spot in foggy conditions – so we wound up buying a bright
red Mazda M3 hatchback. I nick-named it
"The Cherry Bomb".
But these criteria are not
strictly unique to me: butterflies also
have handling and visibility criteria.
criteria: butterflies need the ability
to evade predators (like hungry birds).
So they developed a second pair of hind wings, that allows them to make
faster turns. Recently published studies
at Cornell University found that removing the hind wings did not prevent the butterfly from
flying, but it did "cut turning acceleration in half".
Note the hind wings in this Acmon Blue (Photo courtesy Paul Levine.)
visibility. It's not enough to be quick
and nimble. You want everyone to KNOW you're quick and nimble. If you're
a butterfly evading predators, you want to say, "Don't waste your time trying
to catch me!" If you're a middle-aged
woman, you want to sing "Little Old Lady from Pasadena". So in
both cases, you advertise with color.
So let me end this story
with a tiny confession – my choice of red was not based solely on safety
Perhaps this butterfly was attracted by my red glasses?
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, January 24, 10-12
AM. Fire Ecology Hike in Wilson
Heavy rain cancels – call
the day before to confirm (310-858-7272 x 115).
For map and directions go here.
Sponsored by the Mountains
Recreation and Conservation Authority.
Saturday, January 24th, and every Wednesday, 8:00 AM.
Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley
Come join our trail
maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For
more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.
You can listen to stories
like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio
station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation