I’m going to try and get more regimented with weekly posts. On Mondays from now on I’ll be posting a photo of an arthropod engaged in some deceptive mimicry, and see if my learned readers can figure out what the heck the creature really is. Friday I will post an arthropod taxonomy failure, and Wednesday I will have the arthropod roundup of news and research.
Here is the very first Monday Mimic:
Sure I might look like an ant, but really I’m __________________!
Good luck! If you can ID this down to the species, you are awesome: I have a hard time believing which order it actually belongs to.
Answer and info below the fold…
Ted got it right on the first guess, it is the nymph of Hyalymenus sp?, a Broad-headed Bug (Hemiptera, Alydidae). The photo was taken by Tracy Palmer and posted on BugGuide.
These nymphs are excellent ant mimics; not only in appearance, but also in behavior. They rapidly gesticulate their antennae and move in zig-zag patterns in order to drive home the myrmicine illusion. Researchers believe that this mimicry is Batesian, meaning that the bugs gain protective advantage by resembling species of ants that insectivores avoid.
Here is another angle of the same individual as pictured above. Notice the rostrum in the place of mandibles, a dead giveaway.