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Mertensian mimicry of a wasp resembling an ant

Mertensian mimicry of a wasp resembling an ant

Z345/0302

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51.1 MB (2.6 MB compressed)

4925 x 3626 pixels

41.7 x 30.7 cm ⏐ 16.4 x 12.1 in (300dpi)

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Credit

GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Wasp mimics ant. View of a wasp of the family: Mutillidae, in which the wingless females (as seen here) closely resemble an ant. This wasp group are consequently called "Velvet ants". The female reaches 1.5cm in length. Apart from downy hairs covering her body, she is ant-like in appearance and running behaviour. Her markings mimic certain moderately dangerous ants in what is known as Mertensian mimicry. The wasp itself can deliver a fatal sting, so that no animal learns to avoid it later. However, if it resembles moderately dangerous ants, predators will associate it with unpleasant consequences and in this way attacks on it are discouraged. Photographed in Costa Rica.

Release details

Model release not required. Property release not required.

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