Macrocilix maia is a moth with a most unusual camouflage: it looks like two flies enjoying a delicious supper of fresh bird shit. Is this merely some amusing human poop-pareidolia, or did Macrocilix truly evolve an appearance that made avian predators think it was a poisoned meal? There is "scant research," writes research scientist Alex Wild.
The scant published research on the mural moth is systematic in nature, with nary a mention of the incredible mimicry. In fact, the photo-sharing site Flickr has outpaced any academic work: photographer Allan Lee reports in 2009 that the moth reinforces the imagery with a pungent odor. That’s the extent of our knowledge. Macrocilix maia is a Ph.D. project waiting to happen.
Wild was writing in 2011. Has anything interesting been learned of Macrocilix since? Google Scholar suggests only fleeting references in papers and a book, saying nothing more than Wild's summary. There are many splendid specimens on Flickr, all with nearly-identical caco-camo.
Photo: Alexey Yakovlev/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)
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