Henry Walter Bates [1,2] was the first person to articulate a theory of mimicry from his detailed observations of insects in the Brazilian rainforest. While watching a day-flying moth mimicking a wasp, he wrote "the imitation is intended to protect the otherwise defenceless insect by deceiving insectivorous animals, which persecute the moth, but avoid the wasp." Bates applied this idea to his studies of ithomiine butterflies that exhibit red, yellow, and black aposematic coloration and pierid butterflies (Dismorphiinae); pierids are normally white or yellow, but some species, although palatable, exhibit the same warning coloration as the heliconiids. This has become known as Batesian mimicry and is generally defined as the resemblance of a palatable animal (a mimic) to a distasteful or otherwise protected animal (a model) so that a predator is deceived or confused and protection is gained by the mimic . A mimic may employ visual, auditory, olfactory, or behavioral cues to aid in the deception or confusion that relies on the predator having already sampled the model and learned from the experience. The mimicry is most effective when (1) the mimic is rarer than the model, thereby increasing the chance that the model will be sampled more often than the mimic and when (2) the mimicry is accurate. However, there is some evidence that even very common and poor Batesian mimics may gain some protection by their mimicry [4,5]. Batesian mimicry has been described in vertebrates , invertebrates , and plants , but the overwhelming majority are described in tropical insects.
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