Best mimics you've encountered?

What are some species that convinced you they were one thing, only for you to realize they were a mimic after closer inspection? I have a couple of ant mimics that had me fooled for a minute until I took a closer look:

Lupine Bug (Megalotomus quinquespinosus) - not an ant but a bug! This is a nymph, the adults lose the disguise.

Ant-like Longhorn Beetle (Cyrtophorus verrucosus) - closer inspection reveals elytra that give away this beetle imposter


This mute swan, which I initially regarded as a fellow birdwatching colleague


The first few times I spotted Acmaeodera flavomarginata in the garden, my gut reaction was, “ooh! firefly!”

With great shame I admit until I looked closer, I also mistook the head end for the back end.


Toxic and /or distateful lycidae beetles get a lot of possible mimics.
The mimics
and the originals that get copied.

had to stare for like 30 seconds before realizing this wasn’t a net-winged beetle. even got the fringed antennae:

got completely bamboozled by this clearwing moth:

I uploaded it as a hornet lol. the markings are SO similar to yellowjackets.


Oh wow, it would be crazy if that was the case. Do you think it’s more likely it’s just a pale individual/a bit washed out in the pictures? I distinctly remember thinking it was a yellow jacket, not a bald-faced hornet, so it might have been yellower than it looks in the photos - I know they’re not great quality, she was kinda far away and I didn’t realize it was something interesting so I didn’t chase after her </3

I’ve always felt that horned lizards are among the best mimics of grumpy humans.


As for mimics of non-humans, I love the wasp mantidfly. Saw it in flight and it looked like a wasp but something wasn’t right about its movement. Luckily it landed by us and chilled out so we got some good photos.



Everyone wants to be a wasp, I guess.


Wow these are all incredible mimics! I was definitely fooled by quite a few of them.

1 Like

Honestly I’d say I’m pretty decent at recognizing the actual bug than the mimic they are pretending to be, but in any case, here are some pretty cool ant mimics:

And a bonus throwback wasp mimic observation back when I just joined iNat:


I’m not sure that they mimic bees, but Ripiphorus beetles don’t look like beetles

The wasp mimic moths in central America (check out Pseudosphex) are the best I’ve encountered digitally.


Not really the ‘best mimic’ I encountered, but would certainly qualify as one of the best observations of mimicry.

Bumblebees are a commonly used ‘template’ for several syrphid genera, and some are extraordinarily good in imitating them (especially when the head is hidden, such as in the first photo here).

Also fascinating: in some genera there are related species that look completely different, as evolution was a strong segregator once a certain path was taken (here are two members of the genus Sericomyia - who’d’ve thought?).

But I digress, as the main point I wanted make was that there are some species where you can find - within a population - several different forms of bumblebee mimicry.

And while not as convincing as other mimics, I was very delighted to find - on the same day - three individuals of the Narcissus bulb fly (Merodon equestris) in my small garden. A species that I not only rarely encountered (only 4 additional observations in my patch in the past 6 years), they also are often difficult to photograph. But here they are - they were very cooperative that day:

  1. Bombus terrestris - type

  1. Bombus lapidarius - type

  1. Bombus pascuorum - type


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.