Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Aggressive Mimicry

  • Fiona R. CrossEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_113-1

Definition of “Aggressive Mimicry”

This is a term used when predators make signals that indirectly manipulate the behavior of their prey. Aggressive mimicry can be thought of as being a type of communication, as it involves two individuals (i.e., a sender and a receiver) and a signal, but in this instance the sender does not communicate to share information with the receiver in a reciprocal way. Instead, the sender uses specific signals to play mind games with the receiver, with the response elicited being detrimental to the receiver but beneficial to the sender. This type of communication is manipulative in an indirect way because, instead of being based on the sender physically forcing the receiver to do something in particular, it is based on assisting the sender with gaining indirect control of the receiver’s behavior (Jackson and Cross 2013).

Mimicking Potential Prey

One of the most well-known examples of a predator indirectly manipulating the behavior of its prey comes from...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Glaudas, X., & Alexander, G. J. (2017). A lure at both ends: Aggressive visual mimicry signals and prey-specific luring behaviour in an ambush-foraging snake. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Haynes, K. F., Gemeno, C., Yeargan, K. V., Millar, J. G., & Johnson, K. M. (2002). Aggressive chemical mimicry of moth pheromones by a bolas spider: How does this specialist predator attract more than one species of prey? Chemoecology, 12, 99–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Jackson, R. R., & Cross, F. R. (2013). A cognitive perspective on aggressive mimicry. Journal of Zoology, 290, 161–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Jackson, R. R., & Hallas, S. E. A. (1986). Comparative biology of Portia africana, P. albimana, P. fimbriata, P. labiata, and P. shultzi, araneophagic, web-building jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae): Utilisation of webs, predatory versatility, and intraspecific interactions. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 13, 423–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jackson, R. R., & Wilcox, R. S. (1990). Aggressive mimicry, prey-specific predatory behaviour and predator recognition in the predator-prey interactions of Portia fimbriata and Euryattus sp., jumping spiders from Queensland. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 26, 111–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Jackson, R. R., & Wilcox, R. S. (1993). Spider flexibly chooses aggressive mimicry signals for different prey by trial and error. Behaviour, 127, 21–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lloyd, J. E. (1975). Aggressive mimicry in Photuris fireflies: Signal repertoires by femmes fatales. Science, 187, 452–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Tarsitano, M., Jackson, R. R., & Kirchner, W. H. (2000). Signals and signal choices made by the araneophagic jumping spider Portia fimbriata while hunting the orb-weaving web spiders Zygiella x-notata and Zosis geniculatus. Ethology, 106, 595–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Wignall, A. E., & Taylor, P. W. (2011). Assassin bug uses aggressive mimicry to lure spider prey. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, 278, 1427–1433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Wilson, D. P. (1937). The habits of the angler-fish, Lophius piscatorius L., in the Plymouth aquarium. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 21, 477–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.International Centre of Insect Physiology and EcologyMbita PointKenya

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alexis Garland
    • 1
  1. 1.Ruhr UniversityBochumGermany