The function of the yellow-black color pattern of Coccygidium fascipennis (Cresson) was studied in Tayrona National Park (Colombia). Wild Anolis tropidogaster lizards, kept in cages located in the field, were used as predators. Eight types of live insects were offered as prey, five with their natural coloration and three with artificial (painted) color patterns, i. e.: C. fascipennis, C. fascipennis painted black, yellow stratiomyidae fly, stratiomyidae fly painted to mimic C. fascipennis, stratiomyidae fly painted black, Ichneumonid sp, Monarea sp (Braconidae), and Digonogastra sp (Braconidae). The last three were selected because their color patterns are very similar to that of C. fascipennis. The abundance of species with yellow-black color patterns was assessed by 185 hours of sampling. A generalized model of regression, with the lizard behavior eating/not eating as the dependent variable, was used to assess the relative palatability of the insects. Lizards did not show change in their probability to attack any of the insects over time. Despite color modifications, lizards distinguish palatable flies from C. fascipennis; however, artificial colored flies had a lower probability of being attacked whereas wasps painted black were attacked at higher rates. Specimens of C. fascipennis used their ovipositors for defense. Of the four wasps species tested, Ichneumonidae sp. was the least palatable. Of the 27 species found with yellow-black coloration C. fascipennis was the third most abundant after Argidae sp and Lycidae sp, which appear to employ chemical defense. This is the first demonstration of the defensive function of coloration in braconid wasps.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Braconidae Coccygidium fascipennis
Species 2: Squamata Iguanidae Anolis tropidogaster
Species 3: Hymenoptera Braconidae Monarea
Keywords: mimicry, adaptation
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