Page images
PDF
EPUB

There are a number of the larger tropical weevils which have the elytra and the whole covering of the body so hard as to be a great annoyance to the entomologist, because in attempting to transfix them the points of his pins are constantly turned. I have found it necessary in these cases to drill a hole very carefully with the point of a sharp penknife before attempting to insert a pin. Many of the fine long-antennæd Anthribidæ (an allied group) have to be treated in the same way. We can easily understand that after small birds have in vain attempted to eat these insects, they should get to know them by sight, and ever after leave them alone, and it will then be an advantage for other insects which are comparatively soft and eatable, to be mistaken for them. We need not be surprised, therefore, to find that there are many Longicorns which strikingly resemble the 66 hard beetles” of their own district. In South Brazil, Acanthotritus dorsalis is strikingly like a Curculio of the hard genus Heiliplus, and Mr. Bates assures me that he found Gymnocerus cratosomoides (a Longicorn) on the same tree with a hard Cratosomus (a weevil), which it exactly mimics. Again, the pretty Longicorn, Phacellocera batesii, mimics one of the hard Anthribidæ of the genus Ptychoderes, having long slender antennæ. In the Moluccas we find Cacia anthriboides, a small Longicorn which might be easily mistaken for a very common species of Anthribidæ found in the same districts; and the very rare Capnolymma stygium closely imitates the common Mecocerus gazella, which abounded where it was taken. Doliops curculionoides and other allied

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 “ 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

« EelmineJätka »