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Letters to Nature
Nature 249, 179 - 180 (10 May 1974); doi:10.1038/249179a0

Is polymorphism in two-spot ladybird an example of non-industrial melanism?

B. R. BENHAM*, D. LONSDALE & J. MUGGLETON

*Science Department, Bolton Institute of Technology, Bolton, Lancashire
Cryptogamic Botany Laboratories, The University, Manchester
Department of Zoology, The University, Manchester

THE polymorphism exhibited by the two-spot ladybird, Adalia bipunctata Linn., in which specimens have a red ground colour and black spots (the typical morphs) or a black ground colour with red spots (the melanic morphs) is a well known phenomenon. The reasons for the existence of this polymorphism, however, are not well understood. Analogy to the situation in some melanic Lepidoptera, such as Biston betularia Linn.1,2, is unacceptable as it would seem that selective predation by birds upon the morphs which blend less well with their surroundings would not operate upon A. bipunctata. Ladybirds are distasteful, have a distinctive scent, are warningly coloured and therefore are avoided by vertebrate predators3,4.

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