Clearwing moths buzz like bees
Southeast Asian clearwing moths buzz like their model bees
(Frontiers in Zoology, 2021) by Marta Skowron Volponi, Luca Pietro Casacci, Paolo Volponi, Francesca Barbero
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The endless struggle to survive has driven harmless species to evolve elaborate strategies of deceiving predators. Batesian mimicry involves imitations of noxious species’ warning signals by palatable mimics. Clearwing moths (Lepidoptera: Sesiidae), incapable of inflicting painful bites or stings, resemble bees or wasps in their morphology and sometimes imitate their behaviours. An entirely unexplored type of deception in sesiids is acoustic mimicry. We recorded the buzzing sounds of two species of Southeast Asian clearwing moths, Heterosphecia pahangensis and H. hyaloptera and compared them to their visual model bee, Tetragonilla collina, and two control species of bees occurring in the same habitat. Recordings were performed on untethered, flying insects in nature. This study was part of Marta Skowron Volponi’s grant no. 2019/32/C/NZ8/00523 funded by the National Science Centre, Poland. MSV is supported by the Foundation For Polish Science (FNP). The Sony RX10 III camera was kindly provided by Interfoto (Warsaw, Poland), www.InterFoto.eu.