Lifescapes Gallery

23 / Mar / 2011
The Copycat of Coorg!
Common Mormon Caterpillar, Coorg Photograph: Ganesh H. Shankar Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Copycat of Coorg!

It’s said that if you wish to attain any degree of proficiency in a field, you should begin early. Nobody follows this dictum better than the subject of this issue, whose career as a mimicry artist begins from early childhood. What looks to be a bird’s dropping on a leaf, is often a Common Mormon Caterpillar in disguise. From the earliest stage of its life, the Common Mormon puts into practice its lifelong pursuit of the arcane science of mimicry; of copying the forms of things in the immediate environment. One could be forgiven for wondering if this species is lacking in good taste, as there must be more appetising things to mimic than a bird’s dropping. But, the unpalatable nature of what it copies is what allows the Common Mormon to escape from becoming a tasty tidbit. This is a lesson that’s hammered in early, and during metamorphosis, the caterpillar evolves from bird droppings to mimicking a leaf to blend in with the surroundings. As it blooms into full Butterfly-hood, though, the subjects to mimic become more complex, with the Common Rose and the Crimson Rose avatars being the most favoured. The female Common Mormon spends a lot of her time mimicking these inedible butterflies, as potential predators steer clear of them. While the tales of its mimicry skills abound, there is an interesting story behind its name. It is believed that the name originated from the occurrence of three different female forms to a single male form, and reminded early naturalists of the polygamous practices of the Mormon sect in America. Whatever be the provenance, the Common Mormon is proof of the fact that imitation is actually the best form of self-defence!

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 9:58 am and is filed under Insects . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. AmaR sen says:

    This caterpillar is very nice convert in butterfly. so, thanks.

  2. Neelima Chitnis says:

    Your Lifescapes series is truly interesting and educational. The photography is exceptional! I would like you to continue this series to propagate awareness of nature.Thank you!

  3. Dr Sameer R Rao says:

    Another jewel of an image Ganesh and the colors are wonderful, the caterpillar is lovely. This will metamorphosize into even more beautiful butterfly. Amazing nature

  4. Archana Lokkur says:

    Thanks for the nice pictures. But this slime scared me.

  5. Dr. Satish Sharma says:

    Beautifully photographed, though not a appetising image per se. Well captured in words too, as usual. Look forward to visiting and seeing some of these that u feature. Carry on the good work.

  6. Kannan .K.V. says:

    I hate creepy crawlies, so, YUUUCK!!! is my first reaction at the sight of this Mormon whatever. But, I have to admire the photograph for its beauty. The article is, as usual, quite informative and humorous. Thanks.

  7. S G Neginhal IFS (Retd) says:


  8. Ajit K Huilgol says:

    Another jewel from Ganesh’s treasury!

  9. sunil thomas varghese says:

    awesome……double “like”!!!!!

  10. sanjay says:

    Nice pic.

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