Moving like a model

Moving like a model

Moving like a model: mimicry of hymenopteran flight trajectories by clearwing moths of Southeast Asian rainforests

Marta A. Skowron Volponi, Donald James McLean, Paolo Volponi, Robert Dudley in “Biology Letters” 2018

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Clearwing moths are known for their physical resemblance to hymenopterans, but the extent of their locomotor mimicry is unknown. We describe zigzag flights of sesiid bee mimics in Southeast Asian rainforests which are nearly indistinguishable from those of bees, whereas sesiid wasp mimics displayed faster, straighter flights more akin to those of wasps. In particular, the sesiids Heterosphecia pahangensis, Aschistophleps argentifasciata and Pyrophleps cruentata despite being morphologically distinct, equally resembled black Tetragonilla collina and red T. atripes stingless bees, and, to a lesser extent, dwarf honey bees Apis andreniformis, whereas the sesiid Pyrophleps sp. resembled Tachysphex sp. wasps. These findings represent the first experimental evidence for behavioural mimicry in clearwing moths.

During this study Marta Skowron Volponi received funding through a doctoral scholarship ID 2016/20/T/NZ8/00541 from The National Science Centre (Poland).