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Spectacular mimicry involving 3 species


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Calidiopsis sp. mimic Polycatus sp. mimic Pachyrrhynchus sp. model

The genus Pachyrrhynchus of family Curculionidae is striking for it’s spectacular colors and patterns that makes it popular with collectors and entomologists alike. However, there is another aspect that this group is famous for: model for a host of mimic species belonging either to the same tribe, the same family or even different coleoptera families of which the genus Doliops (Cerambycidae) and genus Metapocyrtus (Curculionidae) is very much known. I will talk about this one in a future post.

The photos shown above were collected at a particular forest in the Zamboanga Peninsula. At first, I didn’t notice this one but when I checked the specimens back home, I was just surprised that these three, all occurring in the same patch of wood, were in fact related in patterns to one another. In most cases, the model here is the Pachyrrhynchus sp. (left), probably undescribed. Following it is a Polycatus sp. (center) that almost approximates the elytral and pronotal markings of the former. And finally, a much smaller Calidiopsis sp. (right), that has lost it’s pinkish color due to rigor mortis. This last one is almost similar to the female of Polycatus sp.

These are just two mimic species. Just imagine if the usual species of Metapocyrtus and Doliops can be found and you have spectacular grouping of model and mimics involving five different species!

  • A really cool blog!

    I have a question — how do you determine which species is the model and which are the mimics? Just curious…

  • infra, i’m basing this from what I have experienced in other species of the group. In all cases, the genus Doliops are collected in the same area where there is an abundance of the Pachyrrhynchus species and usually have the elytral patterns as well as color similar to the latter. Doliops is also quite rare compared with the Pachyrrhynchus. Similarly, the Polycatus as well as Metapocyrtus, and in this case, the Calidiopsis, are fewer but occur in the same area.

  • I see…. you mean the model species is usually the one with the greater geographical spread & not the other way around…?

  • i’m referring to abundance in numbers. a mimic cannot be more abundant than the model since it will only fail. when it comes to geographical spread, most pachyrrhynchids are really localized with some species only found at a particular mountain range or a smaller geographical footprint as these are all flightless and inhabits the upper elevations.

    just this evening, i read again the monograph of Schultze on the pachyrrhynchids (1923 & 1924) and i might need to correct some items. while the Doliops-Pachyrrhynchus relationship is the perfect form of mimicry: doliops, which is much rarer, often resemble its model species for protection; when it comes to the other curculionid genera, like Pachyrrhynchus, Metapocyrtus, Macrocyrtus, Eupachyrrhynchus, Schultze said that it might actually not about model and mimic. he said that the hard bodies of members of these genera might be protection already and that their similarities might be coincidental owing to the climate, geography and other factors. it might be something surprising but i think much study needs to be done on this particularly interesting characteristic 🙂

  • I see!
    So does it follow then that Pachyrrhynchus is toxic whereas its mimics are not?

  • referencing back to what schultze said in his monograph, it may not be poisonous. it’s protection is its hard body. however, he has observed that, one species in particular, P. orbifer was observed on jatropha which, is sometimes used as fish poison 🙂