Nature

Interesting Insects That Survive Thanks to the Art of Disguise

By Robin Mei - November 28, 2016
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Snake Caterpillar

Credits: Image: Daniel Janzen / janzen.upenn.edu / Caters News

If this were a scene from your backyard, wouldn’t you be scared to come across a snake hanging from a tree?

Well, most people would, but you don’t have to be so worried about it — the creature here is not a snake at all, but a caterpillar in disguise. Plus, it lives in Costa Rica.

This harmless critter is known as a snake caterpillar and uses this clever reptile-like camouflage to chase away its predators.

Source: Caterpillar Snake Disguise

Dead Leaf Butterfly

Credits: Image: Quarti

The camouflage king of the Asian tropics (as some sources refer to this creature), is technically called the dead leaf butterfly. This insect can be found anywhere from Japan to India, where it is known as the Indian oakleaf.

Like many other insects, this one also uses its super camouflaging powers to avoid becoming easy prey for predators. As long as its wings are folded, a dead leaf butterfly looks precisely as its name describes it.

Source: The Dead Leaf Butterfly – Camouflage King of the Asian Tropics

Owl Butterfly

Credits: Image: TripAdvisor

A winged master of disguise is the owl butterfly, famous for its amazing patterns that resemble the eyes of an owl. This visually striking insect is native to Central and South America, but it can also be found in Mexico.

Owl butterflies can reach up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) in length. Their size and the fact that they are short-range fliers make them an easy target for predators, so they use this cover to hide away from real-life angry (and hungry) birds.

Source: Owl Butterflies

Flower Mantis

Credits: Image: Caters News

One of the most visually stunning types of praying mantis is the flower, or orchid, mantis.

Unlike their big green cousins, these colorful mantis are only 2.5 to 5 centimeters (1 to 2 inches) in length and can be found across Eastern and Southern Africa.

Although their appearance is much more stunning, their other mantis characteristics remain the same. The flower mantis is a cannibalistic creature, and males still have to fear their beautiful ladies wanting to chew their heads off after mating.

Source: Unraveling the Orchid Mantis Mystery

Stick Bug

Credits: Image: Pavel Kirillov

Not only does the stick bug looks exactly like a twig, it has mind-blowing regenerative powers.

If a bird figures out that a gently moving stick is not what it seems and is actually a potential meal, that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of our friend here.

The only thing a stick bug needs to do is to offer up a leg to the bird. If it gets chewed off, the next time the bug molts a new one will grow back in its place.

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Stick Insects

Wasp Moth

Most of the moths that we know of are nocturnal, meaning they are only active at night when they are more difficult to notice and thus safer from their predators. However, some moth species still prefer daylight hours, so they need to “wear” a disguise to fool their enemies.

For the wasp moth, this means developing the ability to mimic the look of one of the most aggressive insects (of course, a wasp), which automatically makes it a much less inviting bite.

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Moths

Mantisfly

Credits: Image: Katja Schulz

This insect really deserves a medal in the discipline of confusing predators as it’s very tricky to guess what it is only by looking at it. It could be a fly, wasp, or mantis, right? So, which one is it? The answer is none of the above. This is a mantisfly.

This species has very little to do with the praying mantis. They are distant cousins, even though they share some similar features. They are definitely not related to wasps.

Source: Is it a wasp? Is it a mantis? No, it’s…

Ant-Mimicking Spiders

Credits: Image: Charles Lam

Did you know that some spiders prefer to look like ants rather than the “real” spiders? No matter how strange this may sound, there are over 300 spider species that can easily be mistaken for ants.

These spiders use their mimic ability not to hide from their enemies, but to improve their predatory skills while hunting the insects they resemble. Some even mimic ant behavior and wave their front legs as if they were antennae.

Source: Spiders disguise themselves as ants to hide and hunt their prey

Poop Spiders

Some might say that there is no better camouflage than a revolting one. We can make arguments for and against that statement, but in case of poop spiders it turns out to be perfectly accurate.

Also known as bird-dropping spiders, these funny-looking creatures use this cover to protect themselves from birds and wasps during the day, but also to get near their favorite foods just by sitting on branches looking like excrement.

Source: Bird-dropping spider, Celaenia excavata

Green Caterpllars

Credits: Image: Mad Max

Caterpillars are the larval stage of butterflies and moths whose only job is to eat as much food as possible.

They need energy for their transformation from the pupal stage into adulthood, so they consume as much fuel as possible. It is estimated that a caterpillar can consume up to 27,000 times its body weight.

They also need to find a way to not be eaten themselves so some caterpillars, like the green caterpillar seen here, perfectly mimic their surroundings to the extent that even the sharpest predatory eye miss them.

Source: 10 Fascinating Facts About Caterpillars