Curious Imposters: Episode 4

Cuckoos and death's head hawkmoths may just be some of the most cunning creatures on our planet.

Curious Imposters

Here we discover that some animals are able to trick others into believing they are something that they are not. The art of deception is a powerful attribute for some.

Attenborough on Cuckoos

Attenborough on Cuckoos

Cuckoos

Cuckoos migrate to the UK every year, spending the summer months feeding and breeding. However, they don't put as much effort into the rearing part of breeding as many other birds do.

After replacing an egg with one of their own in the nest of of another bird species, cuckoos somehow dupe these surrogate parents into bringing up the cuckoo chicks.

Cuckoo chicks use various adaptations to maximise the amount of effort their surrogate parents invest in them, including killing their step-brothers and sisters and replicating the call of several birds.

Attenborough on Death's Head Hawkmoths

Attenborough on Death's Head Hawkmoths

Death's Head Hawkmoth

The death's head hawkmoth strikes fear into many people, brandishing their spooky skull motif that adorns their back. However, it isn't their patterning that is the most remarkable aspect of this curious species of moth.

Sneaking into the nests of honey bees, straight past the guards, death's head hawkmoth's are able to steal their honey, quite literally, from under their noses. So, how do they manage this incredible feat of deception? Perhaps it lies not in how they look, but how they smell.