Common Mormon Caterpillar, 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!