Search Image for Leaf Shape in a Butterfly

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Science  02 Jun 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4345, pp. 1071-1073
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4345.1071


The butterfly Battus philenor forms search images for leaf shape when searching for its two larval host plants in southeast Texas. This behavior increases the rate of discovery of host plants and permits females to track changes in relative host plant suitability for larval growth. Apostatic selection resulting from search image formation is a likely explanation for divergence in leaf shape by the two host plants.