Chemical mimicry in an aphid

Why Evolution Is True

I’ve posted a lot about morphological mimicry in animals: the evolved resemblance of one species’ appearance to that of another, or to the environmental background. This mimicry can serve to protect animals from being spotted by predators, or, if you’re a predator, to hide yourself from your prey.

The latter situation, in which animals resemble something else so they can kill or injure members of another species, is called aggressive mimicry. And an intriguing new example of this is reported in a paper in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Adrián Salazar and six colleagues (free download, reference below). The mimicry, however, involves chemistry rather than appearance. In the new case, an aphid has evolved to secrete the hydrocarbons that are on the surface of larvae of an ant with which the aphid is normally associated. This mimicry deceives the ants, who can’t see very well but are sensitive to…

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About marksolock

I am a lawyer in Chicago with interests in pop culture and current politics.
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