What is mimicry?

   Mimicry is the resemblance of an animal to another animal or plant or to its surroundings. This resemblance, which often helps to protect the animal, is usually based on a similarity of color or structure.
   Many examples of mimicry may be found among insects. The dead leaf butterfly of India, when resting, has the color and shape of a dead leaf and is therefore not disturbed by its enemies. People are often afraid of the harmless hover fly because it looks like a stinging wasp. The viceroy butterfly is rarely eaten by birds because it resembles the bad-tasting monarch butterfly. The walking stick looks just like a small twig. Spider mites that live among moss look just like part of the moss plant.
   Many other animals also have protective coloring or structure. Young deer and some baby birds blend with their environment. The stripes of the tiger blend with the tall grass. Many nocturnal spiders are black and therefore difficult to see at night. Tree frogs are green. Arctic animals are often white. Protective coloring not only protects these animals from their enemies, but it also makes it possible for them to prey on other animals more easily. For example, the white fur of the polar bear, who has few enemies, enables it to approach its prey, the seal, unseen.
   Animals do not plan a color or shape for themselves. Their protective coloring and structure is the result of selective evolution. Through the ages the animals with the most effective protective coloring and structure have survived the longest and therefore have been able to reproduce more of their kind.
   After many generations of breeding, more and more members of their species were born with the coloring and structure necessary for their survival.