ScienceShot: Avoid the Blinking Light

Fireflies flash their lights to attract mates, but this bioluminescence is also a magnet for predators. A new study published online this month in Animal Behaviour, however, reveals that, if a meal tastes bad, predators learn to avoid the blinking. Researchers placed faux fireflies (a flashing green LED) next to either tasty crickets or a toxic firefly species (Ellychnia corrusca), and then released a jumping spider. Though the spiders initially attacked both insects, those that went after the fireflies quickly learned to avoid the flashing LED. In the wild, both palatable and unpalatable firefly species often share the same habitat, so if a spider or other predator gets a bad taste in its mouth, it will begin to shun all flashing lights, to the benefit of both species.

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Posted in Plants & Animals