Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Biston betularia caterpillars on birch and willow (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

27 August 2021

Moths are eaten by birds, small rodents, bats, and lizards and are especially vulnerable during the day. To avoid predation many hide in plain sight. Here are four moths that use camouflage to survive.

The peppered moth (Biston betularia) is a camouflage master. The adults look like bark, the caterpillars (above) look like twigs.

Research indicates that the caterpillars can sense the twig’s color with their skin and match their body color to the background to protect themselves from predators.

Wikipedia: peppered moth

You can see an adult peppered moth on a plain surface …

… but on birch bark you (mostly) don’t. This particular moth could have roosted on a darker spot but then we’d think the photo was just bark.

The buff tip moth (Phalera bucephala), native to Eurasia, is visible on a mothing cloth …

Buff tip moth, Phalera bucephala (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

… but matches a birch twig in the wild.

Buff tip moth on twigs (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The pandora sphinx moth (Eumorpha pandorus) is large and easy to see on plain surfaces.

Pandora sphinx moth (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s why he is green.

Pandora sphinx moth camouflage (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

And finally, this is the moth that inspired this article.

Now you see me. Now you don’t.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)

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