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Advertising Coloration

When animals and plants use color to be noticed, it is called advertising coloration. Advertising coloration can be used to either warn or attract animals.

Come Pollinate Me!

CardinalThe bright colors of flowers and berries are advertising coloration that attracts animals. Flowers need to be pollinated to reproduce. Bees and hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors and will pollinate the flowers.

CardinalSome pollinated plants produce berries. These berries turn a bright color when they are ripe. The bright color lets berry-eating birds know the fruit is sweet and safe to eat. After birds eat the berries, the seeds pass through their digestive system and are left behind. Some of the seeds left behind grow into new plants.

Time to Mate

CardinalColor is also used to attract mates. Many male birds, like the northern cardinal, are brightly colored to attract females. Bright feathers can be an indication of how healthy the bird is.

CardinalFemale birds are naturally attracted to healthier males because their offspring will be healthier. Female birds are often less colorful than males. This helps camouflage them when they are nesting.

Warning! Danger!

CardinalAdvertising color is also used to warn animals away. The lady beetle has bright orange wings with black spots. Its coloring warns predators that the ladybug tastes awful.

CardinalThe striped skunk has short-stubby legs and would have trouble trying to run away from a predator. It has other adaptations that help it survive, including its white stripes that are a warning to predators that they may be in for a nasty surprise if they try to attack.

Boo! Startle Coloration

CardinalSome animals, like the red-eyed tree frog, may scare prey away with their color. Red-eyed tree frogs sleep during the day. If a predator came up to a red-eyed treefrog and it opened its eyes, the bright red color of its eyes might shock the predator long enough to give the red-eyed tree frog time to hop away to safety.