Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/233

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VIII
211
ORIGIN AND USES OF COLOUR IN ANIMALS

concealment, but as a direct means of securing their prey by attracting them within the enemy's reach. Only a few cases of this kind of coloration have yet been observed, chiefly among spiders and mantidae; but, no doubt, if attention were given to the subject in tropical countries, many more would be discovered. Mr. H.O. Forbes has described a most interesting example of this kind of simulation in Java. While pursuing a large butterfly through the jungle, he was stopped by a dense bush, on a leaf of which he observed one of the skipper butterflies sitting on a bird's dropping. "I had often," he says, "observed small Blues at rest on similar spots on the ground, and have wondered what such a refined and beautiful family as the Lycaenidae could find to enjoy, in food apparently so incongruous for a butterfly. I approached with gentle steps, but ready net, to see if possible how the present species was engaged. It permitted me to get quite close, and even to seize it between my fingers; to my surprise, however, part of the body remained behind, adhering as I thought to the excreta. I looked closely, and finally touched with my finger the excreta to find if it were glutinous. To my delighted astonishment I found that my eyes had been most perfectly deceived, and that what seemed to be the excreta was a most artfully coloured spider, lying on its back with its feet crossed over and closely adpressed to the body." Mr. Forbes then goes on to describe the exact appearance of such excreta, and how the various parts of the spider are coloured to produce the imitation, even to the liquid portion which usually runs a little down the leaf. This is exactly imitated by a portion of the thin web which the spider first spins to secure himself firmly to the leaf; thus producing, as Mr. Forbes remarks, a living bait for butterflies and other insects so artfully contrived as to deceive a pair of human eyes, even when intently examining it.[1]

A native species of spider (Thomisus citreus) exhibits a somewhat similar alluring protection by its close resemblance to buds of the wayfaring tree, Viburnum lantana. It is pure creamy-white, the abdomen exactly resembling in shape and colour the unopened buds of the flowers among which it takes

  1. A Naturalist's Wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago, p. 63.