The insect shown on these pages are mantids, a stick insect, and a leaf insect. All live on vegetation and you will see that each has developed an appearance which blends perfectly with its surroundings. Let’s find out how do these insects avoid detection?
Mantids are usually colored green or brown to match the color of foliage and are often shaped to help the disguise, as well. Some are long and slender like twigs and others have a rough appearance to resemble bark.
As they tend to keep very still for long periods during the day, these insects are very difficult to detect.
The young stage of one species from Asia, the Flower Mantid, is even more adapted for concealment and bears a remarkable likeness to the pink flower of the plant on which it lives. It matches its color perfectly and flattened extensions from its legs give the impression of petals.
This mantid has the double advantage of attracting insects such as butterflies which it can then easily catch while remaining perfectly hidden from its enemies. In the same way, the other well-camouflaged mantids are able to pounce on unsuspecting insects that wander by without having to move an inch to hunt them.
The camouflage of stick insects and leaf insects probably serves only to hide them from their enemies as both feeds on plants alone. However, their ability to avoid being seen is just as good as the mantids. The stick insect has an elongated body and spindly legs and assumes an attitude which is exactly that of an extension of the twig on which it is resting.
Unless it moves it is difficult to believe it is really an insect. The related leaf insect bears an incredible resemblance to a leaf, even down to the ribs on the wings which look exactly like the veins of a leaf. Some even go to the length of having marks to give the impression of fungal growths and bird droppings.
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