Looking like something you're not is arguably one of the best ways to avoid being eaten, and no group of animals has mastered that skill quite like the insects. Some use false eye-spots to appear large and in charge, while others turn to a bit of faecal mimicry to hide in plain sight. Sawfly larvae, on the other hand, prefer to link up, Megazord-style.  

By travelling in groups, and taking cues from each other's movements, the larvae disguise themselves as a much larger animal. They not only start and stop together, but they also react to any defensive behaviour from the leading line. Just check out these Australian spitfire sawfly larvae in action:


The common name – sawfly – is a bit misleading, as these insects aren't flies at all. Instead, they get the moniker from the saw-like ovipositor that females use to bore into plants for egg laying. Once hatched, the herbivorous larvae spend several months chowing down on leaves before they finally pupate. Amazingly, some species stay within the safety of their cocoons for years before emerging again in adult form.

The larvae might look alien, but you've probably encountered a sawfly or two in your day, as the tiny insects are rather inconspicuous as adults. They resemble flying ants, only they don't have a "waist" between the thorax and abdomen. The resemblance is no surprise really, since sawflies belong to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes ants, wasps and bees. There are over 6,000 known species worldwide, so next time you're out in the garden, have a look around!

And just because we can't get enough of watching their synchronised manoeuvres, here's one more for good measure: the European pine sawfly.


Top header image: Jean and Fred/Flickr