The Moth Species That Mimics Bees Can Be Vicious
Like all organisms, insects have adapted to their environments by developing features that favor their survival. For example, there are plenty of insects that have evolved to blend in with surrounding foliage in order to hide from predators. These camouflaged insects may not be predatory, but their physical features allow for the continuation of their species. Stick insects and praying mantises are both good examples of insects that are easily camouflaged within their natural environments, but praying mantises are predatory, unlike stick insects. In addition to camoflauge, some insect species indulge in mimicry in order to survive. These insects are naturally timid and not very aggressive in the face of enemy attacks. These non-predatory insects owe their survival to the fact that they appear to be the type of insects that are predatory. Some species of moth have evolved to look almost exactly like certain bee species. Normally these timid moths would be hunted and killed constantly, but their resemblance to bees deters predators from attacking them.
In order to live long enough to reproduce, several species of day flying moths have evolved to look like bees. These moths don’t just bear a passing resemblance to bees, as these moths possess nearly all of the superficial features that can be observed on bees. For example, much like bees, these moths possess a furry black and yellow exterior, thickened antennae that often appear elbowed and four wings. However, a sharp-eyed entomologist would be able to discern between bees and bee mimics by focusing on the moth’s legs and mouth. Moth legs are very slender, and unlike many bee species, they lack a pollen basket. Moths also possess long mouthparts that are often even longer than their bodies. When looking at the moths that mimic bees, these mouthparts can be seen coiled under the moth’s head, but it lengthens when the moth feeds. The clear winged Sphinx moth is the most well known bee mimic.
Do you think that some predatory insect species can see through the moth’s bee disguise?