In Disguise: 6 Camouflage Expert Insects

Camouflaging, in general, is the imitation of the surroundings or staying in a location where their outward appearance perfectly blends in with the environment. There are a lot of insects that use camouflaging in the wild (and maybe even in your households) as a way to keep themselves hidden from predators and people.

Don’t worry; if you call pest control, even camouflaging insects can’t hide from them.

Still, it’s pretty amazing what these creatures can do. Take a look at the following insects and their amazing skills in hiding.

Dead leaf butterfly

dead leaf butterfly

The dead leaf butterfly, also known as the orange oakleaf butterfly (Kallima inachus), is a nymphalid butterfly that is found in tropical Asia from India to Japan. It gets its name from resembling a dry leaf with dark veins when its wings are closed. When its wings are open, on the other hand, the forewings exhibit a black apex, and orange disc band and a deep blue base.

Walking leaf insect

walking leaf insect

Walking leaf insect is an insect from the family Phylliidae that is famous for perfectly mimicking the appearance of a leaf. They do this perfectly so predators will have a hard distinguishing them from leaves. Some species of walking insects’ bodies even have “bite marks” to further confuse predators. They also rock back and forth when walking to mimic a real leaf being blown by the wind.

Flower mantis

Spiny mantis 6

Flower mantises are a species of praying mantis that mimic flowers. Unlike other insects that use camouflaging as a method to hide from preys, flower mantises use this form of camouflaging called aggressive mimicry. Aggressive mimicry is defined as a form of camouflage where a predator’s colors and patterns lure prey.

Dead leaf mantis


Just like the flower mantis, the dead leaf mantis is another type of praying mantis. It got its name from mimicking dead leaves. There are various species of dead leaf mantises (and are often treated as pets), and they include the giant dead leaf mantis, Malaysian dead leaf mantis, and Philippines dead leaf mantis.

Lichen katydid

Lichen katydid

Katydids are known for their ability to mimic their natural surroundings, and the lichen katydid is no different from its relatives. This newly found specie of katydids, which was first discovered at around 2012 in a small number of locations in northern Queensland, looks like a lichen-encrusted branch. It admittedly has high details of structure and color and are speculated to be found on lichen-covered branches of higher trees.

Stick insect

stick insect

If you have watched the animated film The Bugs’ Life, you’ll encounter a walking insect there. Stick insects, sometimes called the walking sticks, resemble twigs – making it one of the most efficient natural camouflage insects on Earth. Their species can range from the half-inch-long Timema cristinae of North America to the formidable Phobaeticus kirbyi of Borneo. Aside from blending in with the environment, stick insects also feign death to fool predators, while some will shed occasional limbs to escape from an enemy’s grasp.

Aside from the fact that they feed on plants, these camouflaging insects don’t pose too much threat inside human homes. However, they would probably prefer not to be inside your house as well, where they can clearly be seen.

I Will Survive! Different Forms of Mimicry

mantis mimic


Even without pest control services, insects live in a constant threat from its predators. These predators may be larger animals like snakes, rats, or birds, or other insects like spiders! Because of these constant threats, specific insects evolved in order to adapt to their environment and to avoid being eaten their predators. These evolutions resulted to three different strategies to fool predators: deceptive behavior, camouflage, and mimicry. Amongst the three strategies, mimicry is perhaps the most interesting and here’s why:

What is mimicry?

In the insect world, mimicry is often coined as the resemblance of one insect (called the “mimic”) to another (called the “model”) so that other insects, including the model, will be confused by the two. As compared to camouflage and deceptive behavior, mimicking insects are the most cost effective especially since they do not have to change their behaviors as compared to insects that use deceptive behavior, or stay in a safe background to disguise themselves like camouflaging insects.


moth mimic
Find the moth!


Batesian mimicry

First coined in 1862 by Henry Bates, this kind of mimicry involves an unprotected, harmless, or palatable species (the mimic) that closely resembles a protected, harmful, and unpalatable species (the model).

Examples include a fly that looks like a bee. Because of its resemblance to the bee, birds won’t attack the fly since they know that attacking a bee will only sting them. Another example is a spider that we have featured before: the kerangga ant-like jumping spider. This spider resembles a weaver ant, a kind of ant that is known for its notorious bites. Our last example of Batesian mimicry is the hawkmoth larva and its resemblance with a green parrot snake, a poisonous predator that feeds on frogs.

Mullerian mimicry

As compared to Batesian mimicry where the mimic is a harmless and palatable species resembling a harmful and unpalatable one, the model is unclear in Mullerian mimicry – developed by Fritz Muller – since both species share warning colors or patterns to evade predation as well as the fact that both are toxic. The said advantage of this type of mimicry is that predators only need to encounter one form to shun the entire complex due to generalization.

One famous example of Mullerian mimicry was once an example of Batesian mimicry: the viceroy butterfly and the monarch butterfly. Both share the same color and have resemblance over the other. It was once believed that viceroy butterflies are unpalatable until purported. It is now claimed that viceroy butterflies are more unpalatable than the monarch butterflies.




Wasmannian mimicry

Wasmannian mimicry by Erich Wasmann is the kind of mimicry where the mimic resembles the model in order to live within the same nest or structure as the host.

Most jumping spiders resemble ants, helping them avoid their predators. Another example, and is a classic one, is the staphylinid beetles which somewhat resembles their host ants allowing them to enter the ants’ colonies and feed on their food.

Peckhamian mimicry

Named after George and Elizabeth Peckham, Peckhamian mimicry is also known as “aggressive mimicry”. In this case, the predator is the mimic and it resembles a specific palatable prey. Because of this, the saying “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” is very applicable.


Each organism plays a vital role in the ecosystem, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that one will willingly go and be eaten by predators. In the end, these mimics can actually claim that they have survived the threats in a long-run!