Skip to main content

Data from: No link between nymph and adult colouration in shield bugs: weak selection by predators

Cite this dataset

Medina, Iliana et al. (2020). Data from: No link between nymph and adult colouration in shield bugs: weak selection by predators [Dataset]. Dryad.


Many organisms use different anti-predator strategies throughout their life, but little is known about the reasons or implications of such changes. For years it has been suggested that selection by predators should favour uniformity in local warning signals. If this is the case, we would expect high resemblance in colour across life stages in aposematic animals where young and adults share similar morphology and habitat. In this study we used shield bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomoidea) to test whether colour and colour diversity evolve similarly at different life stages. Since many of these bugs are considered to be aposematic, we also combined multi-species analyses with predation experiments on the cotton harlequin bug to test whether there is evidence of selection for uniformity in colour across life stages. Overall, we show that the diversity of colours used by both life stages is comparable, but adults are more cryptic than nymphs. We also demonstrate that nymphs and adults of the same species do not tend to look alike. Experiments on our model system suggest that predators can generalise among life stages that look different, and exhibit strong neophobia. Altogether, our results show no evidence of selection favouring colour similarity between adults and nymphs in this speciose clade. 


This dataset contains information on colour for different species of Pentatomoidea (shield bugs). It also contains results for experiments with chicks.

Colour was collected from high quality photographs published in scientific articles or different websites. Three coordinates were collected for each colour, corresponding to the RGB channels (red, green and blue). For each species there is information on the nymphal colouration and the adult colouration.

Chick experiments were done with naive chicks and details are presented in supplementary material.

Usage notes

Excel file colour: There are no missing values in the main dataset. Each row corresponds to a different colour, and there are multiple colour per species and life stage. The is a tab called metadata that explains the information in each column. We also include a tab that contains all the references were photographs were obtained from. In some cases photographs from websites were used, and we provide the scientific article that we used to make sure that the website had the correct nymph or adult description. R code to be used with the first tab of this dataset has been supplied, along with additional files.

Excel file chick experiments: There are missing values from attack latencies for two videos. Other than that the dataset is complete and to be used with the associated R code on stats on chicks.

We have also uploaded the phylogenetic tree files that were used in this project. 

Please refer to READ ME file for details on all files uploaded.



Australian Research Council

University of Melbourne