Sunday, May 9, 2010


I have always been fascinated with camouflage. It astonishes me how an animal will adapt and change over time to blend in with its surroundings. Many of these cryptic creatures also have behaviors that allow them to become practically invisible. Here are a few from the last couple months that have blown me away.

This one baffles me. The Tulip-tree Beauty Moth, Epimecis hortaria, blends right in with the tree bark. But how does the moth know this?!? It is right out in the open, completely exposed. In case you haven't spotted the moth, it is right in the center of the frame. Follow the vertical cracks in the tree and its body interrupts them.

This one put up a chase, while I was trying to take a photo of a Birdsfoot Violet and find a Pine Warbler that was singing in the tree above me. Talk about multi-tasking! Can you spot the grasshopper in the photo above? It looks just like a stick.
How about now that I have cropped the photo? Using this photo for reference, you can see it is to the left of the tan leaf and above the darker leaf in the left corner, between the two blades of grass.

The grasshopper is a Carolina Grasshopper, Dissosteira carolina, and has a beautiful yellow and black wing that it flashes as it flies. It folds its wings when it lands and then scurries a few steps away. This leaves the predator (or naturalist) baffled as to where it went.

Another moth, this one green. My friend Tricia West spotted this one. It is arched up on top of a leaf. Again, it is exposed, not hiding under a leaf, but sitting right on top in the open. John Howard and I didn't see it at first even though Tricia told us right where it was! This is called a Bad-wing Moth. I read that the reason it is called a Bad-wing Moth, Dyspteris abortivaria, is not because it is a member of a gang or because it has a hot temper, but because its wings tend to shred when entomologists go to pin them. If you can't find the moth, it is in the center of the photo, with its head about an inch below the red stem.

Such impressive adaptations like camouflage truly fill me with wonder. I can never get enough of it. Nature never ceases to amaze!

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