A truly weird case of mimicry

The moth in spider’s clothing, via the Neurophilosopher’s weblog

Earlier, I posted about the tendency of prey species to mimic the appearance of other prey, usually to take advantage of the predator’s learned aversion to noxious species. Now the Neurophilospher reviews a strange new case, in which a prey species (the moth) mimics its predator (the jumping spider) to bluff its way out of being eaten.

It works, too: the jumping spider responds to the moth with a territorial display, lifting its front legs in the air above its head. I don’t necessarily buy that this proves the spider believes the moth is a spider – jumping spiders in my garden respond that way to me all the time – but it does show the spider thinks the moth is a threat, not a treat.

Here’s a YouTube video of the moth, and darned if it doesn’t look and move just like a jumping spider. Creepy! (The original post also links to another video of the spider’s territorial behavior).

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