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This a good word to know, meaning a warning coloration in animals and signaling to a potential predator “leave me alone, I might be poisonous to eat.” Examples of aposematic coloration in animals includes skunks, Monarch butterflies, most bees and wasps including the female wasp without wings called velvet ant (photo), and many other brightly colored insects. The Large Milkweed Bug (photo of adult and larvae) who feeds exclusively on milkweeds where nymphs accumulate toxic cardiac glycosides from its host plant, milkweeds, is another good example. Commonly seen on Chico Basin Ranch is the brightly colored barber pole grasshopper (photo), the colors warning predators it might be unpleasant to eat. Many caterpillars, the larvae of moths and butterflies are brightly colored, warning predators of their foul taste if eaten. In the tropics there are a group of brightly colored tree frogs (photo) that are mildly to extremely poisonous. One native South American tribe wipes the poisonous inside of the frog’s skin on their arrow tips, the poison quickly killing the animal that is pierced by this treated arrow. A science teacher should be able to show numerous examples of warning coloration to students as they walk through the native habitats on the Chico.

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