M is for Myrmecomorphy


As a part of the A-Z Photographic Glossary of Biological Terms challenge, today it is M for Myrmecomorphy. What scurries like an ant but jumps like a grasshopper? This ant-mimic oprthopteran (Gryllidae) found in the Sittee River Wildlife Reserve, Stann Creek District, Belize!

Batesian mimics are species which typically lack strong defences of their own, and make use of their resemblance to well-defended ants to avoid being attacked by their predators, some of which may even in fact be ants. As ants are often either unpalatable or aggressive, looking like an ant is useful for non-ant organisms when evading many of the predators that hunt that vision so having an ant shape and demonstrating convincing antlike behaviour like our photo subject for today is a good strategy- this mimicry is called “myrmecomorphy” derived from the Greek with “murmex” (μύρμηξ) meaning “ant” and “morphe” (μορφή) meaning “form” or “shape.”

For a little more information on myrmecomorphy, check out this blog post by Georgia Kelly from James Cook University in Australia

And for more photos and natural history of ant mimics, here are some from ant expert and the Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas/Austin, Alex Wild


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