Wild Fact #614 – Looks Can be Deceiving – Ash Borer

Wild Fact #614 – Looks Can be Deceiving – Ash Borer

Photo by James Solomon

Well, you had to know we weren’t going to get through a week about mimicking animals without talking about one or two insects.  Today we are looking at the Ash Borer, also known as the Lilac Borer, which is a type of clear-wing moth.  This moth is a serious pest in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains.  Although this moth exemplifies a type of mimicry, they are definitely different than our first animal this week, the Lyrebird.

You may have noticed that this insect does not really look like a moth.  Instead, they have black and yellow bands, noticeable back legs and the body of a wasp.  Definitely, not your typical moth that you see hovering around your outside lights.   As mentioned, this wasp can be a major pest for a variety of ash trees (hahaha… I think of “ashtrays” when I say that).  It isn’t the adult that you need to worry about but their larvae that destroys our valuable trees.  Okay, this isn’t a theme about insects that damage trees so lets talk about their imitating behaviour.

Photo by Carroll E. Younce (Wikimedia)

We have already touched on the mimicry that the Ash Borer displays.  Remember when we said they had the body of a wasp?  Of course you do, we just mentioned it about 15 seconds ago.  Well, this crafty little moth has evolved to look awfully similar to the Paper Wasp.  Now when a potential predator is about to attack the Ash Borer, they may think twice, in fear of getting stung.  Of course, the Ash Borer doesn’t have a stinger and is completely harmless (to animals, not trees) but the predator doesn’t need to know that, do they?

Obviously, this is different then the mimicry we discussed yesterday where the Lyrebird was using their vocal talents to attract a mate.  Today, the Ash Borer is using mimicry to strike fear into their potential predators.  So just how many different types of imitation can there be?  Well, you are going to have to stick around for 3 more days to find your answer.

See you tomorrow!

2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Samantha March 01, 2011

    amazing! I have never seen nor heard of this moth. my favorite of the mimicking moths has to be the snowberry clearwing… so fuzzy! so cute! this one not so fuzzy, but still cute.

    • Avatar
      Nathan March 06, 2011

      Hi Samantha,

      The Snowberry Clearwing is definitely a cute looking moth. I don’t believe we have a Wild Fact on that one yet. Hmmmm… perhaps in the near future!

      Thanks for the idea.

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