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Living Jewelry – The Shiny Cocoons of This Exotic Butterfly Look Like Gold Jewels

Butterfly pupae are easy targets for predators in search of an easy protein-rich meal, and one would think that the flashier the cocoon, the higher the chances of being spotted and eaten , but the Mechanitis polymnia, aka the orange-spotted tiger clearwing and its shiny, gold-like pods are proof that the opposite is true.

The orange-spotted tiger clearwing butterfly lives in the jungles of Central and South America, from Mexico all the way to the Amazon rain-forests. It’s a colorful little thing, with a wingspan of 65 to 75 millimeters, but it’s not exactly the most eye-catching of butterflies. Its pupae however are pure gold, literally. Well, not really literally, but they look just like elaborate gold jewelry hanging on the back of plant leaves, and even on the walls of houses in rural areas. But unlike actual gold jewels, these shiny, metallic-looking chrysalises are not meant to draw attention, but distract predators and even discourage them from getting to close. It’s a natural defense mechanism, and a very effective one at that.

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