Batesian mimicry

Batesian mimicry is a form of mimicry typified by a situation where a harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a common predator. 

It is named after the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates, after his work in the rainforests of Brazil.


A Hornet Moth looks like a hornet. image: reddit/imgur

Batesian mimicry is the most commonly known and widely studied of mimicry complexes, such that the word mimicry is often treated as synonymous with Batesian mimicry. 

There are many other forms however, some very similar in principle, others far separated. Of note, it is often contrasted with Müllerian mimicry, a form of mutually beneficial convergence between two or more harmful species. 

However, because the mimic may have a degree of protection itself, the distinction is not absolute. It can also be contrasted with functionally different forms of mimicry.

Perhaps the sharpest contrast here is with aggressive mimicry, where a predator or parasite mimics a harmless species, avoiding detection and improving its foraging success.

Who is who in the game of mimicry?

The organism imitating the protected species is referred to as the mimic, while the imitated organism is known as the model. The receiver mediating indirect interactions between these two parties is variously known as the signal receiver, dupe or operator

Adapted from: Batesian mimicry. (2014, September 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:57, October 7, 2014, from