Weaver Ant Mimicry

19 February 2012
I encountered a weird caterpillar today. Really weird. At first, I thought it was just 2 weaver ants standing back-to-back. When I looked closer, it looked like a centipede. Then I observed further and got myself completely confused and concluded that it was a caterpillar after a few close up shots.

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2641#1 Initial sighting. Couldn’t make or tail out of it. I thought the ends resembled red weaver ants.

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2651#2 Looked more like a caterpillar when viewed from the side

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2624#3 Close up on the tail. It has 2 black spots to mimic a pair of eyes of… possibly an ant?

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2614#4 Close up of what I suspect to be the head, which looked more like the heads of other caterpillars.

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2648#5 It then started to walk…!

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2666#6 The bizarre appendages at it’s sides resembled the legs of a centipede

Owlet Moth larva (Homodes sp.) - DSC_2671#7 I posted this on Facebook and have gotten some suggestions to the ID of this caterpillar.

Hadassah Chen suggested that it belonged to the Geometridae (Inch worms) family of moths.

Jacqueline Lau then suggested it to be Homodes sp., family Noctuidae and provided this link on Weaver Ant Mimicry.

So… it seemed to be documented to be mimicking the red weaver ant! Indeed, the plant where I found this caterpillar had a lot of red weaver ants running amok.

It was also on the same plant that I found another weaver ant mimic…. the Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes)

Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes) - DSC_2568#8 Poised and all ready for incoming weaver ants. The ant-mimic crab spider has 2 spots on it’s abdomen to mimic the weaver ant’s eyes, very much like the caterpillar above. All this while, the spider waved it’s forelegs as if it was in some mating ritual or a dance to attract the ants.

Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes) - DSC_2562#9 The weaver ant approaches… and the ant-mimic spider does it’s funky dance again

Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes) - DSC_2552#10 Captured!! The red weaver ant falls prey to the spider. Slowly.. it sucks the juices out of the ant.

Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes) - DSC_2553#11 It clings tightly onto the back of the ant’s neck, satisfied with it’s catch

Other than the weaver ant mimicking bunch… some other critters were captured in the morning too. 🙂

Acanaloniid Planthopper? (Acanolidae) - DSC_2511#12 Plain white leafhopper

Mirid Bug? (Miridae?) - DSC_2465#13 Queer looking bug, mirid bug?

Mirid Bug? (Miridae?) - DSC_2541#14 Very brightly coloured, with the usual antennae sticking from it’s back like some assassin bugs

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2381#15 David found this brilliantly coloured tiger beetle, still drying off some morning dew

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2392#16 Think it woke up, and started eyeing it’s surroundings

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2405#17 Ran to the bench, and I managed to capture this in natural light (i.e. without any flash)

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2409#18 Had a little bit of dew left on it’s head

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2435#19 Last giant drop of dew left!

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2452#20 Close up of the beautiful tiger beetle’s head

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_2456#21 Final shot before the dew dried up, allowing the little tiger beetle to scuttle away

The complete album can be viewed here.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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