Category Archives: mimicry

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 […]

Complex interactions between caterpillars, ants, and butterflies

I don’t know the species of either the butterfly or the ant in this video taken in Peru, but the interactions are complex. One level is probable mutualism between the ants and the caterpillars. Although the authors don’t mention this for these species, there are a lot of caterpillar species that are guarded and protected […]

Larval fish mimic unpleasant, unpalatable, or nutritionally worthless invertebrate zooplankton

Mimicry is rife not just among animals, but among plants. But one group that’s been neglected in such studies is the juvenile stages of marine organisms. (This isn’t the case for juveniles of terrestrial animals, as seen by the numerous studies of caterpillar mimicry.) This has begun to be remedied by a brand new study by […]

The crab is spotted

by Greg Mayer I think most readers probably spotted the crab (which happens to be spotted) rather quickly, in part because it was in the dead center of the photo, which is how I deliberately composed the shot. More than a challenge to readers’ spotting ability, I wanted to illustrate the delightfully exact camouflage that […]