It is a clever trick if you can pull it off – mimic another, more dangerous animal and so avoid being eaten.
Many insects try it, but it has been a long standing puzzle why some of the worst mimics in Nature can still seem to escape becoming a meal.
Now, Canadian scientists tell Nature journal they can answer that one.
Larger animals, they say, make for more substantial meals, and so their mimicry needs to be spot on. For small prey, a great performance is not so essential.
“Mimicry of harmless species pretending to be dangerous ones in order to avoid being eaten is one of the best celebrated examples of the outcome of evolution by natural selection,” says Professor Tom Sherratt, of Carleton University in Ottawa, who led the research.