This Caterpillar Mimics a Scary Skull to Keep Predators at Bay

The caterpillar of the rare pink underwing moth has a very peculiar defense mechanism. When disturbed, it suddenly arches its back to reveal a pair of large, frightening eyes and what looks like a two rows of barred teeth.

The pink underwing moth is a rare and enigmatic insect found from subtropical New South Wales through Queensland and New Guinea. It feeds on rotting fruit and, although nocturnal, doesn’t seem to be strongly attracted to light. The moth’s name was inspired by the bright pink bars on its hidden hind underwings, which some experts believe act as a defense mechanism. The theory is that a sudden display of color can startle or surprise a predator for long enough to let the moth escape. But that defense strategy pales in comparison to that used by the pink underwing moth in caterpillar form.

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The Fish That Mimics a Dead Tree Leaf to Catch Unsuspecting Prey

The South American Leaf Fish is a remarkable predator that relies on almost perfect camouflage and patience to both ambush unsuspecting prey, and escape larger predators.

Native to the Amazon basin in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, the aptly-named leaf fish does a great job of imitating a dead leaf floating near the bottom of the river. Not only has it evolved to resemble a dead leaf almost perfectly, down to tiny details like the filament at the tip of the lower jaw that resembles a leaf stalk, but it also behaves like a leaf. The leaf fish bends and sways, but rarely moves upright, just as a floating leaf would not, and often angle themselves facing downwards, so that it looks like a dead leaf floating in the water.

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The Malayan Leaf Frog Lives Up to Its Name

The Malayan leaf frog, a.k.a long-nosed horned frog, is one of the most remarkable creatures on Earth, at least in terms of natural camouflage.

We’ve featured some truly impressive masters of camouflage in the past, from the dead leaf butterfly to a plant that evolved to mimic the rocky terrain it grows on, but the Malayan leaf frog is definitely up there with the best of them. As an ambush hunter that waits for unsuspecting prey to cross its path, this amphibian needs to remain unnoticed for as long as possible, and what better way to do that than blend into the leaf-covered forest floor it calls home? Its unique physical features make it almost impossible to visually detect in its natural habitat, and looking at the photos below, it’s easy to see why.

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This Dead Leaf Is a Perfectly Camouflaged Butterfly

Kallima inachus, a species of nymphalid butterfly found in India and Japan, is known as the orange oakleaf or dead leaf butterfly for a very good reason – with its wings closed, this butterfly closely resembles a dried tree leaf.

It’s been said that the kallima inachus butterfly mimics a dead leaf better than an actual dead leaf, and as crazy as that sounds, it actually makes some sense. Somehow, this tiny creatures managed to raise its camouflage to such an extreme level that its wings feature a pointed leaf apex at the front tip, and a leaf stalk on the hindside, as well as a characteristic vein pattern, multiple shades of brown and orange, and even tiny imperfections like black spots or small tears. It’s a perfect camouflage artist.

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This Asian Moth Is Probably Nature’s Ultimate Camouflage Master

We’ve seen plants and insects posing as something else entirely in order to confuse their natural predators, but Macrocilix maia, a moth native to Southeastern Asia, takes mimicry to a whole new level by literally painting an entire scene on its wings.

Looking at a Macrocilix maia moth, it’s impossible to ignore the scene painted on its wings – two flies feasting on some brown spots that could be mistaken for fresh bird droppings. It’s a pretty disgusting picture, and apparently we’re not the only ones who think so. Many of this moth’s predators tend to skip on insects feasting on bird droppings, associating them with potential disease, so the natural pattern acts as a defense mechanism for the otherwise helpless insect. And as if this visual representation of flies eating bird droppings wasn’t impressive enough, the moth reportedly also gives off a pungent odour that could be mistaken for actual bird droppings.

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