Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

APN Features: Insect Crypsis

Journal Entry: Fri Feb 10, 2017, 3:17 PM
Your Home for APN Photography

Leaf Katydid by MagentaMachina

        Within the biological world, more people have likely heard of 'mimicry' or 'camouflage'  than of 'crypsis', but this term is even more encompassing.

"In ecology, crypsis is the ability of an organism to avoid observation or detection by other organisms. It may be either a predation strategy or an antipredator adaptation, and methods include camouflage, nocturnality, subterranean lifestyle, transparency, and mimicry.1"

        If you have ever seen a peculiar leaf stuck to your window, only to realize that it is in fact a katydid, you've been fooled by crypsis. Many animals employ camouflage or mimicry, but it is particularly fascinating within the insect world. Perhaps that's just the plant lover in me, enamored with creatures mimicking botanical forms. :lol: Whatever it is, below are some examples from DA's invertebrate gallery to showcase a bit of this evolutionary wonder.  

The Leaf by MonarchzManGreen Leaf Mimic by MonarchzMan
The most remarkable thing about katydids might not even be their "leaf veins" and twiggy legs, but the fact that often their morphology even mimics the dead, crumbling parts of a leaf.
Costa Rican Leaf Katydid by Hoodoo2060Katydid by dllavaneras
Katydid lichen by X-Alex
Macleay's Spectre by EntophileGiant Prickly Stick Insect by Preradkor
A pair of sticks by WeirdBugLady
Stick Insect (Close-up) by Ramses-Anael
The longest insect recorded to date was a 62.4 centimeter (2 foot!) long stick insect, found last year in China.
Stick Insect - I by alokethebloke
Flatid Planthoppers 50D0005887 by Cristian-MThorn Treehopper by craftworker
Treehoppers have some of the most alien appendages in the insect world, though many species look like tiny leaves or thorns, especially when congregated together on a branch.
treehopper by juandoso
Thorn treehopper - Umbonia crassicornis by ColinHuttonPhoto
Ant mimic spider by dllavanerasAnt-mimic spider III by dllavaneras
Above are two ants... Except they're not ants. :fear: Count the legs!
Bumblebee Mimic by myekehRobber Fly 20D0026145 by Cristian-M
Robber flies look like bumble or carpenter bees.
Wasp Mimic by myekehWasp Mimic Moth by tioedbob
You might steer clear of these two, though they are nothing more than a fly (left) and a moth (right). (Best not to take chances.)
Hummingbird clearwing Moth 2016 2 by natureguyHummingbird Clearwing 1 by seto2112
There are even moths that mimic hummingbirds! These are hummingbird clearwings. 
Geometer Moth larva 20D0036817 by Cristian-M

"Birds must hunt quickly and efficiently; they must find lots of food to feed their hungry chicks and they must do it as quickly as possible to minimize their own exposure to predators. If a caterpillar looks just like a twig, a bird would have to look closely at every twig to find it. Looking like a twig, then, elevates the cost of searching beyond what the bird can afford both energetically and ecologically.2"

Another Leaf by FezzgatorLiving Leaf, Dead Leaf by FezzgatorThe Leaf King by Fezzgator
Hymenopus Coronatus by Mantide
Another h. coronatus wallpaper by pulsarr
Orchid mantis by AngiWallace
The orchid mantis, looking like its botanical counterpart.

        This is supposed to be a feature, not a tutorial, but I accidentally brainstormed a few tips as I was compiling these photos. :paranoid: I have taken entomology in the past, where being able to locate a wide variety of insect species was part of my grade, and I can tell you it's not an overnight thing. It takes a lot of time and effort, and even moreso if you are hunting down insects like these that blend in with their surroundings particularly well.

:bulletblack: Find books and websites on entomology to discover what insect species inhabit your area (or migrate to it). Don't despair if you can't find them—as we have seen here, often their chances of survival are increased by their elusiveness! As with wildlife photography, patience pays off, and you may need a lot of it.
:bulletblack: Look for movement. That may be obvious; insects are not, in spite of hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary changes, camouflaged 24/7. When you're trying to find a leaf or stick insect among nothing but leaves and sticks, it might only be a short trip to another bush that catches your eye.
:bulletblack: Look for something out of place. Our brains are good at picking up on patterns, and noticing when something looks a bit off. Look for legs! Antennae! The spiney leg of a mantis, poised to rip the head off of an unsuspecting fly!

If you have some cool insect photographs, feel free to share them with AnimalsPlantsNature!

1 Knowledge Encyclopedia, Crypsis
2 Crypsis: Nature's Camouflage
+ extra credit - a really good overview of how crypsis works within an evolutionary framework: Crypsis (Insects)

devil mantis 001 by macrojunkie

Journal skin by UszatyArbuz
Photo by The-Panic
February is Invertebrates month at AnimalsPlantsNature! If this doesn't bug you, we hope you will join us for many beautiful features and informative interviews and tutorials. :bug:

Over the years I've fallen in love with insects that happen to mimic other organisms or display striking camouflage, which became the theme of this feature!

From KristenSpork for AnimalsPlantsNature.
Add a Comment:
X-Alex Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017
Thanks for the feature! :) (Smile) 
KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You are quite welcome! I enjoy lichen as well. :eyes:
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Awesome job Kristen :clap: Really interesting facts paired with outstanding photography :boogie:
KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! :love: 
Mouselemur Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
My pleasure :heart:
natureguy Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderful Feature....informative and Wow some really cool pictures!

That's why I like to spend a few hours out with my macro lens, Nature has some really unique looking insects that have found ways to "Mimic" the surroundings and this lets them feed and survive.
 Thank you for including my Humming bird moth pic in it!  appreciated!
KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
You are quite welcome! :'D I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I don't feel like I'd have the patience to photograph moths and butterflies that are constantly in motion. :crying: When using the macro, do you set it on a tripod near some particularly delicious flowers and hope for the best? :noes:
natureguy Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Hi, nope I shoot free does take some practice,but this way you're not nailed down to one spot.
 I set my camera to manual mode, use the on camera flash with a diffuser, set the ISO to 800 or 1000, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed to 1/250of a sec. and then I play with the F stops..if you look at some of my Caterpillar shots, you'll see F stops of around 16 - 22. then I just correct the exposure in my post processing software.hope this helps you out.
thanks again!
Tsisqua-Ugidali Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017  Professional Photographer
Beautifully put together, very interesting and informative.  Thank you.
KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! Can't wait till yours goes live as well! :'D
Tsisqua-Ugidali Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2017  Professional Photographer
Mine was suppose to go live yesterday morning, I only got two people who liked it.
mockingbirdontree Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017

Wow, what an incredibly interesting and great collection. These creatures are so impressive.
Thank you for sharing these amazing pictures and knowledge with us.:Thank You Hearts Sign 

KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! They are incredible creatures indeed. :love:
MYPeanutGallery Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017
Fascinating feature! Well done!
KristenSpork Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! <:
Add a Comment:

:iconkristenspork: More from KristenSpork

Featured in Collections

Jornals by yanadhyana

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
February 10
Submitted with Writer


1,634 (1 today)
8 (who?)