|Mimicry is a different type of camouflage. Animals do not try to blend in with their surroundings, but instead mimic a different type of animal. A number of harmless snakes have evolved very similar coloration to highly poisonous snakes. Many types of harmless, stingless flies have evolved a very similar appearance to bees and wasps.|
This moth has colors and patterns that mimic those of a bee. At first glance, especially when in flight, the moth looks enough like
a bee to discourage most predators. Photo by Maya Walters.
Bees and most wasps are easily recognizable because of their patterns of black and yellow stripes, and most predators learn quickly to avoid them because of their painful, often poisonous stings. A fly that is really quite harmless can take advantage of the wasp's reputation by mimicking it's appearance. The fly might actually make a good meal, but when a predator sees its wasp-like pattern, it stays away.
|The stings of those wasps and bees are a form of both a mechanical defense and a chemical defense. The venom injected by the stinger is a specific mix of chemicals, which usually cause pain and swelling in the predator foolish enough to try to catch them.||Ants, bees, and wasps are the most commonly mimicked insects, because they are some of the most common users of stings with painful chemical defenses. Even stingless ants and bees have chemical defenses: many ants can spray formic acid from their abdomens, and some bees have glands which produce corrosive secretions. The chemicals used by ants, bees, and wasps are all produced by the insects themselves.|
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