If a butterfly is disturbed to the point of attempting to fly away from the area, the colorful wings will again be exposed and the escaping butterfly is easier to see. A predator can chase the now visible butterfly by tracking the flutter of colors. However, if the butterfly quickly lands, it is very difficult to find its exact location because the organism giving chase is now focused on finding the colors, which no longer are visible. In ecology, this phenomenon is called a “flash display” because the prey species gives the predator a flash of color on which to focus. While the distracted predator looks for the obvious sign, the butterfly seems to disappear by hiding its bright colors and using the mottled coloration blend with the environment.
In contrast to butterflies, most moths are active at night, so they use their forewing colors to hide during the day. Bright hindwing coloration of moths often is used to startle a predator.