09 November 2009
Paper Wasp Mimic
This weekend, I found this beautiful insect lolling about on my basil. At first, I thought it was a paper wasp, but looking closely, I realized that it's a moth that is a paper wasp mimic. The clear give-away is the moth's long curled tongue that it uses to suck up nectar from flowers. It's antennae are also a bit longer than a wasp.
According to a 2005 report by Phil Schappert (PDF) who found this species in Bastrop, Texas, this day flying moth, Carmenta armasata (Sesiidae), is relatively rare in these parts. It's more typically found in South Texas. And it's a pretty darn good mimic of the paper wasp Polistes exclamans (photo below).
By mimicking such a wasp, the moth is surely protected from predators.