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Friday, September 8, 2023

Camo Critters: These 6 Bugs Take Hide-and-Seek to a Whole New Level

While it’s easy to spot a cockroach in your kitchen or a wasp on your porch, for several bugs, camouflage is the name of the game. You likely won’t find these incognito insects in your house, but when you're in their home in the great outdoors, you could walk past them without looking twice. Check out this list to learn about the most creative camouflage bugs use to survive and thrive.


  1. Walking Stick Insects 

No, that branch didn’t just grow legs and walk. While these bugs have many names such as stick insects, walking sticks, and stick bugs, they all have one thing in common — they look exactly like a twig on a tree. They’re so dedicated to keeping up appearances that they even sway back and forth to imitate a branch blowing in the breeze. Some species of stick insects can grow up to 25 inches long, making them the longest insect in the world.

If you do happen to spot a stick bug, don’t worry, they’re quite harmless. Most are slow-moving so they can hide from predators. If you're feeling brave, you can even let them climb on you! 

  1. Orchid Mantis

This beautiful master of disguise gets its name for resembling an orchid flower. In addition to being pink and white, this mantis blends in with orchids because its legs look like flower petals. The orchid mantis won’t hang out on any old plant either. This insect will climb up and down orchid stems until it finds one with a flower on top. 

Their camouflage isn’t just for hiding from predators, but for luring in prey, too. When butterflies and pollinators make the mistake of landing on a flower with an orchid mantis on top, they’ll quickly become its lunch. 

  1. Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar 

We wouldn’t blame you if you thought this caterpillar was something a bit more slithery at first glance. The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has markings on its upper back that mimic snake eyes. Combined with its green coloring and round thorax, this caterpillar can pass as a green garden snake to predators. It has a few more tricks up its sleeve too, including sticking out its osmeterium, a Y-shaped organ that looks like a forked snake tongue, to add to the illusion. 

  1. Planthoppers

If there were a couples costume contest for bugs, the stick bug and planthopper would win. These little bugs resemble the leaves they eat. They even have markings on their body that look like leaf veins. Despite what their name implies, planthoppers don’t hop very often. Instead, they slowly crawl on branches and leaves, making them even more difficult to notice.

  1. Assassin Bug

If there was ever a bug that lived up to its name, it’s the assassin bug. These insects don’t try to blend in with their environment or mimic a different animal. Instead, they cover themselves with the corpses of their prey. And yes, it is as creepy as it sounds. 

Assassin bugs inject a type of venom into ants that liquefies their innards and leaves behind a hollow shell. After doing this several times, the assassin bug ends up with a pile of dead ants on its back. No one knows for sure why this camouflage works. It might be that other bugs can’t recognize the assassin bug, or they think it's a swarm of ants they should avoid. Let’s be honest. Whatever the reason is, you would avoid this killer creep too. 

  6. Thorn Bugs

These creative critters caught on to the fact that other bugs and animals don’t like messing with sharp or spikey objects. Thorn bugs have a long-curved spine that mimics the thorns on a rose bush. They can usually be found in groups clinging to a branch or vine, adding to the illusion of thorns even more. Birds and other insects are fooled by this disguise regularly, so don’t be surprised if it also works on you.  

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