Masters of Disguise

The green coloration helps this cricket blend into its leafy environment

Members of the animal kingdom have developed an amazing number of ways of defending themselves from predators. Some have highly evolved poisons that can wound or kill animals many times larger than themselves (think venomous snakes and spiders, or poison dart frogs); others have barbs, spines, or just generally prickly parts that render them unappetizing, making would-be-assailants think twice about the hassle of getting the creature into its craw; finally, there are more innocuous methods of self-defense, like cryptic camouflage. Cryptic camouflage makes the creature more difficult to recognize for what it is, and is usually adapted to function best in the creature’s natural environment. Although it can produce bright or spectacular colors, its markings should be distinguished from colors arising from sexual selection or colors meant as a warning for the toxins an animal carries (think coral snake–and, in a confusing display of mimicry, the king/milk snake). Here are a few insects Seth and I saw around Xandari that showed some nifty camouflage displays. They range from simple coloration to more elaborate mimicry of non-animal matter.

Seth spotted this guy–tough to believe it’s a bug and not a piece of curled leaf. We had no luck in finding its head!

Seth holding a big stick insect we found hanging out along a railing; we moved him to a tree, where he began to blend in a bit better

A strange, dead-leafy-looking bug clinging to the outside reception wall



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