Walking Stick Bug Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
To my dear grandchildren
Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 1)
"I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God . . .
Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings."
Boys and girls always find the game of "hide-and-seek" fun to play, but for many creatures in nature, it is a very important way of staying alive! For many little insects, the threat of being eaten by hungry, prowling enemies is greatly reduced by the God-given skills to look like something else. This is called camouflage. Let's look at some examples.
Katydids (grasshopper-like insects) of Central and South America are among the most amazing. Some have shapes and colouring exactly like the leaves on which they feed. The wings of others look like big bites have been taken out of them, exactly like some leaves around them. So even though fully exposed, they are actually hidden. Some are coloured green, others brown, tan or mixed colours, each matching the plant or tree leaves on which it feeds. And so they are protected from birds, monkeys and larger insects that would eat them. A katydid's ears are on its front legs.
Leafhoppers, which are found in many countries, have backs shaped exactly like the thorns on plants around them. They are completely safe from their enemies until they move.
In India, the Indian leaf bug, which is the same shade of green as the leaves on which it feeds, rocks back and forth like a leaf when the wind blows. This helps to fool its enemies.
Then there is the caterpillar of the sphinx moth, which frightens an attacker by suddenly blowing up the end of its short body to look like the dark-blue head of a pit-viper snake and swaying it back and forth. The snake-like look is so realistic, with two imitation, big, black, gleaming "eyes" above a pointed snout and mouth, that the attacker changes its mind and "escapes" as quickly as possible.
Another odd-looking creature is know as the walking stick, which eats tiny bugs on smooth branches of a tree or bush. When it holds perfectly still, it looks just like a twig. A bird might perch right next to it and never guess it is passing up a meal. These insects do not move until it is dark. This is when they start feeding. Most are brown or green, and some can change their colour to match what they are resting on. They have no wings.
How did these unusual insects (and many more) learn these protective camouflages? Did they get together and decide what would work? Of course not; insects can't do that. Only their Creator could give them the ability of camouflage through all their generations. This shows us another example of His care over all His creatures.
We will look at more examples of God-given camouflages to protect His creatures in our next letter.
Love you all,