If you come across the Lygodium Spider Moth, don’t be afraid.
It’s just a moth, after all. The fascinating bug was discovered in Thailand in 2005, and is described in the journal Annals Of The Entomological Society of America [PDF].
The moth feeds on ferns, and the researchers think that the creepy spider markings help protect it from predators.
That’s pretty awesome.
Researchers have documented previous incidences of moth species mimicking the behaviour of spiders as a way to defend against their predation, but this spider moth species is a dramatic example of how one species can reap benefits from mimicking or looking like another species.
The moth’s favourite food, the Lygodium or climbing ferns, are actually an invasive species in Florida — so in the future Floridians might consider importing the spider-moth to keep the ferns at bay.
Here are a few more images.