Batesian Mimicry in butterflies was the first discovery to unfolding more forms of mimicry. Since then, science has learned that Mimicry in nature comes in many more forms then first realized.
Mimicry is when one species mimics another
in order to deceive and confuse predators.
Two terms of importance:
Forms of mimicking include using appearance, behavior, sound, scent and camouflage. Mimicry in butterflies is when one mimics, or fakes, itself to resemble another butterfly species - the model.
It was discovered that the harmless Dismorphia Butterfly (Pieridae family)
pretended to have poisonous compounds by mimicking its appearance to the Heliconius Butterfly, or Passionvine
Butterfly, from the Nymphalidae family. Predators believe that the Dismorphia would be fowl tasting
just like the Heliconius Butterfly.
One example in North America of Batesian Mimicry is the Viceroy Butterfly mimicking the appearance of the poisonous Monarch Butterfly. Pictures below show the Female and Male Monarch Butterfly on the top row. These pictures also represent sexual dimorphism amongst butterfly species.
Female Monarch, Male Monarch and Viceroy Butterfly
Although mimicry is found primarily in insects, it is also found in reptiles and a few animals in nature. For example, there are moths that mimic leg movements and postures of spiders to appear threatening.
Honey bees have the defense of sting. Many animals stay away from the honey bee for that reason. Certain types of flies, beetles and moths mimic the honey bee to predators who fear getting stung.
AutoMimicry is when an organism has one part of its body
resembling another part of another organisms body.
An example in butterflies is the Owl Butterfly. Eye-spots on its wings resemble the face of a larger animal which scares predators.
Mullerian Mimicry is when two or more harmful species, not necessarily related families, share common predators. These harmful species have learned to mimic each's warning signals through visual, smelling or hearing strategies.
With Mullerian Mimicry each harmful species
are both the fakes and the models.
Aggressive Mimicry is where the Fake and the Model trick
a predator into becoming a food source for themselves.
Speed Mimicry is where a slow Fake resembles
a fast Model appearing to be hard to catch.
Where a Fake mimics the Model to live in the same nest or colony.
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