Moths, Adaptations and Predators

In order to avoid predators, the caterpillars of some species of moths rest during the day by masquerading as twigs, well-camouflaged and keeping their bodies rigid and still. The aim of the investigation is to determine if caterpillars of the peppered moth show a preferred angle of rest.

Students look at a series of images of larvae and measure the angle of rest of each one. They then assess, using calculations and graphs, and perhaps a statistical test, whether larvae do show a preferred angle of rest. This may also be carried out as a field study.

This is a useful investigation for illustrating aspects of scientific enquiry and a number of questions are suggested. Curriculum links include stimulus and response, innate and learned behaviour and their influences on survival, natural selection, anti-predator strategies.

This resource was provided by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB).

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