The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Ants are so beautiful that even the true bugs wanna be them. Check out this ant mimic larvae in the order Hemiptera (the “true bugs”), shared on Twitter by PhD student Naoto Idogawa (井戸川直人) of Kyoto University. Remember, though it may be hard to believe, this is *not* an ant!

One of the clearest signs that ants have achieved grand success in both an ecological and evolutionary sense is the high number and taxonomic range of organisms that have evolved, over millions of years, to closely mimic the behavior and appearance of our favorite Hymenopterans. Ant mimicry – known as myrmecomorphy – is currently known among crickets, spiders, true bugs (as we have seen), sticks insects, thrips, mantises, flies, beetles, and even plants!

Ant mimicry on the anthers of a Passiflora sp. flower. Figure 1 in Lev-Yadun (2009).

Myrmecomorphy is the sincerest form of imitation and is thus flattering indeed.