Nature Nugget – Mimicry

Mimicry is “the superficial resemblance of one organism to another that secures it a selective advantage.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981.

One of the best known examples of mimicry in North America is the Viceroy butterfly. The Viceroy mimics the orange and black coloration of the Monarch butterfly, which is distasteful to predators because it fed on the poisonous milkweed plant as a larva. Other native butterflies, such as the Spicebush Swallowtail and the females of the Tiger and Black Swallowtails mimic the coloration of the Pipevine Swallowtail, which is also distasteful to predators.

One of the most spectacular mimics in the Neotropic rainforest is a sphingid moth larva, which mimics the Parrot Snake. The caterpillar is colored a cryptic green, which resembles a twig until it is disturbed. When disturbed, the caterpillar, in one-motion swings its head end free and inflates its thorax with air, taking on the shape and color pattern of a Parrot Snake’s head complete with large false eyespots. This is usually enough of an effective surprise to shock even the most resolute predator. As if that weren’t enough, the last stage of development of this caterpillar mimics the arboreal Eyelash Viper.

“The Australian Hammer Orchid has taken advantage of a mating ritual of the Thynnid wasp, which involves a female wasp waiting on top of a plant for a male to spot her. The hammer orchid’s flower mimics the female wasp looking upward for a male flying by, complete with a fake shiny head and furry body. The orchid even releases an enticing, female wasp pheromone. When the male wasp tries to mate with the dummy female, he fails, but the orchid succeeds in getting pollen on the wasp. He flies away, only to be fooled again by another orchid. In the process the wasp transfers pollen from flower to flower.” (cited September 2002).

There are many other examples of mimicry in nature. There are flies that mimic bees, spiders and insects that mimic ants, and insects that mimic leaves and twigs. Satan used mimicry in the Garden of Eden by taking the form of a serpent to deceive Eve. He is still using mimicry on us today by his many counterfeits. He has a counterfeit gospel, a counterfeit church, a counterfeit Sabbath, a counterfeit outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and counterfeit revivals and miracles. He has a counterfeit for every part of God’s work. “Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those who are willing to be deceived . . . .” The Great Controversy, 528. Only the true student of God’s Word will be able to discern God’s truth from Satan’s counterfeits. “So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures.” Ibid., 593.