Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail

Predicting Animal Behaviour

It is much easier to predict animal behaviour when we learn certain simple patterns.

Most animals see the world in terms of basic things like: food, water, sex, competition and habitat.

Insects, for example, are very sensitive to temperature and therefore light levels.

When disturbed, most butterflies that are in sunshine will fly to sunshine. Butterflies in shade will fly to shade.

Like all animal behaviour patterns, there are exceptions, but this is a probability game and if we know what an animal is doing and why, it makes prediction a lot easier.

If a butterfly has open wings in the sun, it is trying to warm itself and so it will almost certainly fly to another sunny spot. If its wings are closed then it doesn’t need to warm up and so it is much less likely.

If you watch the video above carefully, you will notice that a butterfly with open wings in a sunny location (a male Silver-Washed Fritillary – Arginnis paphia), flies from sunshine to sunshine repeatedly when disturbed – by me. Notice how it never lands in my shadow.

But the most interesting thing is how it behaves at the right-hand edge of my shadow, it’s like there is a barrier there, the cold butterfly really doesn’t want to fly into that shade.

For lots more examples of how to predict animal behaviour, please check out my books, especially Wild Signs & Star Paths (US: The Nature Instinct).

The silver-washed fritillary butterfly