wasp mimicry

anonymous asked:

Is that moth trying to mimic a wasp? I've never seen a moth whipping with its antennae like that

Apparently ctenuchas are a type of “wasp moth” and are known for wasp mimicry so yes! I never thought about the wiggling antenna being an attempt to mimic wasps tho, but they are noticibly more active with their antenna then other moths I’ve seen so it is a possibility

The weird thing about me finding this guy was that these moths are actually durinal, but I found this guy at 2 am under a lamp with other (nocturnal) moths

anonymous asked:

If evolution is working blindly how can animals mimic another animals? ex: flies that mimic wasps.

This type of mimicry (where a harmless species mimics a deadly or at least more irritating species) is called Batesian mimicry.

It might be hard to imagine how a species can evolve to mimic another one without some kind of conscious “intent” propelling the changes along. However, in this case it’s important to remember that a species is not selecting itself- it isn’t seeing the dangerous species and deciding to imitate it. The selection is actually driven by the potential predators of the mimic species.

Have a look at this fellow.

Made you jerk back a second, right? Even if you noticed a moment later that the insect in that picture is actually not a yellow jacket. Still, that initial reaction of “ahh, wasp!” is what drove the evolution of this locust borer’s color and shape. The more it looks like a wasp, the more likely you are to leave it alone. Thus, the mimicry is selected for- what might start as a bit of yellow pigment might be guided by predator choice into this sophisticated pattern. Ironic how the predator itself is what decides which pattern is the most effective, isn’t it?

We know that this is truly “blind” selection because not every species mimics a more deadly one- what we might expect if this excellent strategy wasn’t stumbled upon by chance.

Interestingly, Batesian mimicry also has an effect on the species being mimicked- a negative one. It’s easy to imagine why: if a bird eats the locust borer and doesn’t get stung, it’s more likely to then go after the similar-looking wasp and expect no repercussions. This forces the mimicked species to have to constantly (though gradually) evolve to change its patterning in an attempt to escape being confused for its mimic- while predators continue to drive the mimic to change its pattern to match the mimicked species. It’s a real evolutionary war of attrition.