Green Anole Stalking And Capturing A Butterfly: The Story In Photos

We’ve talked about anole predation on butterflies before, and now Karen Cusick has photo-documented the events leading up to it on Daffodil’s Photo Blog. This is the same green anole that Karen previously documented with an enormous moth in its mouth.

The moment before the attack was launched.

 

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

4 thoughts on “Green Anole Stalking And Capturing A Butterfly: The Story In Photos

    1. That leap was what amazed me. The anole launched itself off the fence as if it thought it could fly, and it grabbed that butterfly out of the air. I’d estimate it leaped at least 12 inches toward the butterfly.

      I saw this same anole attempt the same leaping attack with the Sphinx moth a few weeks ago, an even longer leap that time. It jumped off the top of the fence but missed the moth on the way down, and landed on the ground. Then it climbed back up the fence and waited until the moth was on some flowers close to the fence and grabbed it.

      This leaping attack is obviously working for the anole at least some of the time, successful enough for the anole to keep using it. I’ve never seen another anole use this method. There are lots of brown anoles on that fence that hunt moths all the time, but they wait until a moth is close to the fence and then run up to it and grab it.

  1. I presented a few quotes about this in Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree. Footnote 197: Examples of this prey-catching behavior were provided for the relatively short-limbed A. carolinensis (under the name A. principalis) by Lockwood (1876, p. 7): “I have just been watching Nolie eying a fly which was walking on one of the glass panes of his house. He made a noiseless advance of about three or four inches; then followed a spring, when he was seen cleaving to the glass by his feet, and champing the captured fly. I saw him once intently watching the movements of a fly which was walking on the glass. As seemed evident to me by an ominous twitch of that little head, his mind was made up for a spring; but lo, there was a simultaneous makeup of mind on the part of the fly, which at this juncture flew towards the other side of the case. Then came—and how promptly—mental act number two of Anolis, for he sprang as the after-thought directed, and caught the insect on the fly.” Dial and Roughgarden (1995) report an anole jumping from a branch one meter above a spider web, catching the spider as it passed by, before landing in the vegetation below.

    1. Very interesting, especially that the jumping anole that caught the insect in flight in the first footnote was also a green anole (A. carolinensis).

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