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A mimic is any species that has evolved to appear similar to another successful species in order to dupe predators into avoiding the mimic, or dupe prey into approaching the mimic.

There are three types of mimics:

  1. Batesian mimics (named after Henry Walter Bates), where the mimic resembles the successful species but does not share the attribute that discourages predation.
  2. Müllerian mimics (named after Fritz Müller), where the mimic resembles the successful species and shares the anti-predation attribute.
  3. Aggressive mimics, where the mimic resembles a harmless species in order to lure prey.

For example, the Aegeria moth is a Batesian mimic of the yellowjacket wasp, because it resembles the wasp, but is not capable of stinging. A predator who would thus avoid the wasp would similarly avoid the Aegeria.

On the other hand, a honeybee is a Müllerian mimic of the wasp (and vice-versa), since both share similar appearance and coloring, and both are capable of stinging.

Female fireflies of the genus Photus are an example of aggressive mimics. By copying the light signals of fireflies of other species, they lure male fireflies which are then captured and eaten.

See also: predator

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