Invertebrates are pretty amazing. There, I said it. From the incredible transformations of the butterfly and moths, to the masterful web making skills of the orb web spiders. They all engage me one way or another, whether its watching a mantis hunt its prey or simply watching a line of ants take food back to the nest. But the one thing that blows my mind more then anything is their mimicry and camouflage. From looking like flowers and leaves to even looking like other insects. The amount of specific evolution that had taken place to get it to this incredible point. It is without doubt, amazing.
Many insects have done this for protection, whether it is to look like a plant and camouflage or even looking like a poisonous insect so they don’t fall prey. Some have even used it to either attract unknowing prey or to be able to sneak up unseen.
The following photos are of insects and spiders that I have found – found in a museum counts as being found – that display amazing forms of mimicry. Some photos are not that great however because this is a topic which really excites me, ill more than likely be adding more in the future.
This is the Spiny Leaf insect. This is a live specimen from the Queensland museum. Being in an enclosure with many other stick insects they are quiet easy to spot, however just by looking at its very leaf like appearance it is easy to see how the can disappear from pretty quickly.
I have taken many photos of this species of mantis over the years. It has been quite easy for me to spot these now, however, like the spiny leaf insect, with its mottled bark-like appearance its quite to easy to walk right by.
One more insect that has evolved to completely disappear into its surrounds. Looking like a dead leaf, the only time I ever see these amazing butterflies is when they quickly fly away off the ground when I walk to close. As far as I am concerned, prob the most beautiful butterfly around.
We have now got to animals that have evolved and adapted to look like other animals, in this and the next case, its spiders. The above spider has mimicked the appearance of the local rattle ants that live in the same trees. They even move like the ants. It even technically walks on 6 legs just like ants however its 2 front legs have adapted to actually look like antenna. However the only way I knew this wasn’t an ant the first time I saw it was that jumped out of the way when I got to close just like a jumping spider. It was so amazing to watch, the replication is really out of this world.
This last spider, has also mimicked a different species of ant, and as I found out, moved just like an ant across the plant, making it extremely difficult to photograph. Just like the previous photos, this spider has also adapted it legs, the six legs are all a reddish colour whilst the front two have remained black to, again, look like antenna. I need to look into these species more. Are they looking like ants for their own protection or are they using it as some form of prey attraction.
The amount of times I have seen ants just running and have never looked pastthe physical appearance makes me wonder how many mimics in nature have i just overlooked. To completely not see a stick insect can be explained, but to be looking at an insect and not even know you are looking at another species of animal, that says a lot for the success of deception that the world of invertebrates has achieved.