Common Name: Wasp-Mimic Moth
Order Name: Lepidoptera
Family Name: Sesiidae
The waxy and transparent scales of this Sesiid moth simulate the membranous wings of the wasps they mimic. Special interlocking spines link the hind and forewings together, allowing for behaviorally stylized flight characteristics that simulate a wasp in flight. Lepidoptera means “scale-wing.” The amazing variety of designs on the wings of butterflies and moths are achieved through various pigments, structures and shapes of the tiny scales that cover their wing surfaces. These scales easily dislodge upon touch and their “dust” has been the source of folklore. The Yaqui Indians in Carlos Casteneda’s books believe moths to be the heralds and guardians of eternity, with knowledge coming like specs of gold “dust.”
The Sesiidae family of moths are notorious for their ability to mimic wasps. Through physical and behavior mimicry, they gain protection by an association with a more formidable insect. This moth looked like, flew like and even sounded like a wasp until the lure of the minerals in a roadside puddle, tempted a landing and its muted moth characteristics became more apparent. Mimicry is common in the insect world where you find mantids looking like lichen and moths who pass for tarantulas.