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Jumping Spider Mimic Moth - Petrophila jaliscalis

Jumping Spider Mimic Moth - Petrophila jaliscalis
Zilker Park, Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
July 26, 2010
I believe that this moth is mimicking Salticids. I collect spiders almost daily and this one had me fooled. See my comparison image. It may take having a search image for spiders to notice, suggesting that the moth is targeting Salticids. I find that Salticids of different species and similar size tend to skirt one another. Note that Salitcid mimicry is not unknown in moths, as documented in Predator Mimicry: Metalmark Moths Mimic Their Jumping Spider Predators.

I was conducting a spider program for a summer camp today and went to collect what I thought was a Salticid. It kind of made a funny hop, so I figured it was probably a molt. I went to pull it off, and then thought it might have been a dead Salticid. It may have taken me 10 seconds to realize that this was a moth.

The Salticid eyes are on the hindwing and they would only show when the forewings were sufficiently forward. After spending some time photographing the moth, it appeared to me that the forewings would only fall sufficiently forward after the moth had plenty of time to relax. The moth appears only to park as a Salticid mimic.

A friend of mine, Dan Hardy, subsequently video'd one of these moths as he tried to disturb it. It produced some interesting wing behavior. I wonder if these wing movements are what fooled me into thinking it had jumped.

The moth was on the underside of a hackberry leaf.

See for comparison:

Images of this individual: tag all
Jumping Spider Mimic Moth - Petrophila jaliscalis Jumping Spider Mimic Moth - Petrophila jaliscalis Jumping Spider Mimic Moth - Petrophila jaliscalis

Most Interesting
Enjoy reading. It would be interesting to know the numbers involved - percentage of mimics:predators. There has to be an optimum ratio for the mimicry to work. Just a thought.

My understanding, hearing it from people who study passionvine butterflies and their mimics, is that the mimics of a poisonous butterfly are only found in the same region as the butterfly it mimics, excepting when the poisonous butterfly has recently vanished from the region. It probably takes a certain population of them too.

Perhaps one thing missing fro
Perhaps one thing missing from this image is the gleam that the eyespots make when the sun hits them right. The mimicry is more apparent with the living specimen.

Moved from ID Request.

Looks like Petrophila jaliscalis 4775
Images here.

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