« EelmineJätka »
Longicorns from the Philippine Islands most curiously resemble, both in form and colouring, the brilliant Pachyrhynchi,-Curculionidæ, which are almost peculiar to that group of islands. The remaining family of Coleoptera most frequently imitated is the Cicindelidæ. The rare and curious Longicorn, Collyrodes lacordairei, has exactly the form and colouring of the genus Collyris, while an undescribed species of Heteromera is exactly like a Therates, and was taken running on the trunks of trees, as is the habit of that group. There is one curious example of a Longicorn mimicking a Longicorn, like the Papilios and Heliconidæ which mimic their own allies. Agnia fasciata, belonging to the sub-family Hypselominæ, and Nemophas grayi, belonging to the Lamiinæ, were taken in Amboyna on the same fallen tree at the same time, and were supposed to be the same species till they were more carefully examined, and found to be structurally quite different. The colouring of these insects is very remarkable, being rich steel-blue black, crossed by broad hairy bands of orange buff, and out of the many thousands of known species of Longicorns they are probably the only two which are so coloured. The Nemophas grayi is the larger, stronger, and better armed insect, and belongs to a more widely spread and dominant group, very rich in species and individuals, and is therefore most probably the subject of mimicry by the other species.
Beetles mimicking other Insects. We will now adduce a few cases in which beetles
imitate other insects, and insects of other orders imitate beetles.
Charis melipona, a South American Longicorn of the family Necydalidæ, has been so named from its resemblance to a small bee of the genus Melipona. It is one of the most remarkable cases of mimicry, since the beetle has the thorax and body densely hairy like the bee, and the legs are tufted in a manner most unusual in the order Coleoptera. Another Longicorn, Odontocera odyneroides, has the abdomen banded with yellow, and constricted at the base, and is altogether so exactly like a small common wasp of the genus Odynerus, that Mr. Bates informs us he was afraid to take it out of his net with his fingers for fear of being stung. Had Mr. Bates's taste for insects been less omnivorous than it was, the beetle's disguise might have saved it from his pin, as it had no doubt often done from the beak of hungry birds. A larger insect, Sphecomorpha chalybea, is exactly like one of the large metallic blue wasps, and like them has the abdomen connected with the thorax by a pedicel, rendering the deception most complete and striking. Many Eastern species of Longicorns of the genus Oberea, when on the wing exactly resemble Tenthredinidæ, and many of the small species of Hesthesis run about on timber, and cannot be distinguished from ants. There is one genus of South American Longicorns that appears to mimic the shielded bugs of the genus Scutellera. The Gymnocerous capucinus is one of these, and is very like Pachyotris fabricii, one of the Scutelleridæ. The beautiful Gymnocerous dulcissimus is also very like the same group of insects, though there is no known species that exactly corresponds to it; but this is not to be wondered at, as the tropical Hemiptera have been comparatively so little cared for by collectors.
Insects mimicking Species of other Orders. The most remarkable case of an insect of another order mimicking a beetle is that of the Condylodera tricondyloides, one of the cricket family from the Philippine Islands, which is so exactly like a Tricondyla (one of the tiger beetles), that such an experienced entomologist as Professor Westwood placed it among them in his cabinet, and retained it there a long time before he discovered his mistake! Both insects run along the trunks of trees, and whereas Tricondylas are very plentiful, the insect that mimics it is, as in all other cases, very rare. Mr. Bates also informs us that he found at Santarem on the Amazon, a species of locust which mimicked one of the tiger beetles of the genus Odontocheila, and was found on the same trees which they frequented.
There are a considerable number of Diptera, or twowinged flies, that closely resemble wasps and bees, and no doubt derive much benefit from the wholesome dread which those insects excite. The Midas dives, and other species of large Brazilian flies, have dark wings and metallic blue elongate bodies, resembling the large stinging Sphegidæ of the same country; and a very large fly of the genus Asilus has
black-banded wings and the abdomen tipped with rich orange, so as exactly to resemble the fine bee Euglossa dimidiata, and both are found in the same parts of South America. We have also in our own country species of Bombylius which are almost exactly like bees. In these cases the end gained by the mimicry is no doubt freedom from attack, but it has sometimes an altogether different purpose. There are a number of parasitic flies whose larvæ feed upon the larvæ of bees, such as the British genus Volucella and many of the tropical Bombylii, and most of these are exactly like the particular species of bee they prey upon, so that they can enter their nests unsuspected to deposit their eggs. There are also bees that mimic bees. The cuckoo bees of the genus Nomada are parasitic on the Andrenidæ, and they resemble either wasps or species of Andrena ; and the parasitic humble-bees of the genus Apathus almost exactly resemble the species of humblebees in whose nests they are reared. Mr. Bates informs us that he found numbers of these 6 cuckoo” bees and flies on the Amazon, which all wore the livery of working bees peculiar to the same country.
There is a genus of small spiders in the tropics which feed on ants, and they are exactly like ants themselves, which no doubt gives them more opportunity of seizing their prey; and Mr. Bates found on the Amazon a species of Mantis which exactly resembled the white ants which it fed upon, as well as several species of crickets (Scaphura), which resembled in a wonderful manner different sand-wasps of large size, which are constantly on the search for crickets with which to provision their nests.
Perhaps the most wonderful case of all is the large caterpillar mentioned by Mr. Bates, which startled him by its close resemblance to a small snake. The first three segments behind the head were dilatable at the will of the insect, and had on each side a large black pupillated spot, which resembled the eye of the reptile. Moreover, it resembled a poisonous viper, not a harmless species of snake, as was proved by the imitation of keeled scales on the crown produced by the recumbent feet, as the caterpillar threw itself backward !
The attitudes of many of the tropical spiders are most extraordinary and deceptive, but little attention has been paid to them. They often mimic other insects, and some, Mr. Bates assures us, are exactly like flower buds, and take their station in the axils of leaves, where they remain motionless waiting for their prey.
Cases of Mimicry among the Vertebrata. Having thus shown how varied and extraordinary are the modes in which mimicry occurs among insects, we have now to enquire if anything of the same kind is to be observed among vertebrated animals. When we consider all the conditions necessary to produce a good deceptive imitation, we shall see at once that such can very rarely occur in the higher animals, since they possess none of those facilities for the almost infinite modifications of external form which exist in the very nature of insect organization. The outer covering of