Category Archives: mimicry

Müllerian mimicry in the Hymenoptera

It looks like there will be a bit of biology today, which is a relief to me (and maybe others) given the impending dissolution of our Republic. There are two quiz questions in this post; see if you can answer them in the comments. I’ve posted a bit on Batesian mimicry, in which a noxious […]

Remarkable katydid leaf mimics whose sexes are different colors

Ready for another science post? The laws of physics deemed that today there would be two. A new paper in the Journal of Orthoptera Research by Sigfrid Ingrisch et al. (free link if you join Researchgate [also free]; reference below) describes two recently-discovered and newly-described katydids from Sabah (part of Malaysia on the northern part of […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Tony Eales from Brisbane sent some lovely photos of models and mimics in an email called “Lycid beetle mimicry”. These beetles, in the family Lycidae, are toxic. When a tasty species (“mimic”) imitates a toxic one, it’s called Batesian mimicry. When distasteful species resemble each other, it’s called Müllerian mimicry. All readers should have learned […]

A beetle that mimics a wasp

I’m working simultaneously on a talk and a children’s book (talk about brain-stretching!), and I have no neurons to spare today. So, courtesy of ever-attentive Twi**er watcher Matthew Cobb, have a look at this wasp-mimicking beetle. Can any entos confirm whether this is a Mecopteran? Weird one I have never seen before. #WildOz — Michael […]

An amazing leaf-mimicking spider

If you’re a regular, you know that all the biologists who post here love mimicry. I’ve tried to explain why: it shows the power of natural selection and the degree of perfection that natural selection can attain (i.e., how closely something can come to mimic the background or another animal—the “target”), and the very remarkable and unpredictable […]

A snake-mimicking spider

by Greg Mayer Matthew shared with me an interesting video of a spider from Singapore that looks like the head of a snake. The videographer, Nicky Bay, is most interested in the pulsation of a dark region below the ‘eyes’, but to me it’s the resemblance to a snake that is most striking– the ‘nostrils/loreal […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Lou Jost, a biologist, naturalist, artist, and photographer who works in Ecuador, but I have a feeling we’ll have more photos from him soon (and, if Hillary wins, he’ll owe me some dosh). The first batch of his pictures sent shows a marvelous bird. His notes are indented: […]

Lichen katydid

I won’t repeat why I’m so enamored with mimicry, except to say that it shows how powerful natural selection can be. Here’s a mimetic insect that was just brought to my attention by Matthew Cobb, courtesy of Canadian science communicator Ziya Tong. Meet the lichen katydid, Markia hystrix, from Central and South America. It’s a herbivore […]

Book on bees of the world has a mimetic fly on the cover – update

Matthew Cobb, who does social media, called my attention to a post today by environmentalist and writer Brigid Strawbridge; it’s about a book on the world’s bees. Here it is. Notice anything strange? Hint: count the wings: Bees, in the order Hymenoptera, have four wings, like this: What we see above on the cover of Bees […]

A stupendous example of camouflage

How powerful is natural selection in causing animals to hide in their environments? How close can it get them to the “optimum”—complete resemblance to something inedible? Have a look at this Phalera bucephala! And be sure to look at each picture separately: just go the original tw**t, click on the left picture, and follow the […]