Around The Farm: Cool Camouflaged Critters

Insect life is fascinating. Our property teems with flying, jumping, running, inching, and digging insects and bugs. Recently, a few stealthy specimens revealed themselves – just long enough for me to get a quick pic before they made themselves scarce (as they do).

First up is a very large moth. I saw something flit by when I stepped outside in the evening, just catching a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I thought it might be a butterfly, so I walked over to where it had flown. It wasn’t a butterfly, but it was an Ilia Underwing moth, which I had never seen here before. I ran back inside to get my phone, and when I returned, the moth had flown away!

Fortunately, it had only flown around the corner and under a rock face. It was beautifully colored, just like tree bark on the exterior…and what you can’t see is that it sports a lovely bright orange and dark gray pattern on its usually-concealed (unless flying) hindwings. How ironic that it would be so subdued on the surface, but hide such a flashy underside!

Next up: it’s a thorn – no, it’s a helmet with legs – no, it’s actually a treehopper. If you haven’t already had your beak tweaked by the sheer diversity (and evolutionary creativity) of treehoppers, you must look this creature up. This particular treehopper, which I think is a Locust Treehopper (which would make sense since we have plentiful black locust trees here), was a striking bronze color, and its pronotum looked a bit like a rhinoceros’s single horn. Very interesting and definitely worth a closer look.

Another interesting creature is this morning’s inchworm. It was hanging from the shade cloth that protects the screen door of the main chicken coop; I unrolled the cloth so that the sun wouldn’t heat up the coop later in the day, and this rather large inchworm was hanging there like a grayish twig.

I took a couple of pics, then touched it – and it promptly released its hold on the cloth and fell to the ground (fortunately, the daredevil was unharmed). Notice how it looks very much like the small stick below it. The caterpillar appears to be from the Geometer Moth family.

Seeing double

Finally, an understandably cross praying mantis hides among the unripe elderberries here. The hapless mantis was in my bag of elderberry clusters I’d harvested and was clinging to the side of the (mesh) bag. I promptly relocated it to a more appropriate habitat. It refused to cooperate for photos, and may be gesturing angrily at me. I get it.

Look at those gorgeous tiger-striped legs!

Weird and wonderful, clever and concealed, these creatures are all around us. Take some time today to enjoy the beauty of the insect and bug world.

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