Amazing Leaf-Mimicking Animals

One of the best strategies for avoiding being eaten by predators is to hide in plain sight. But there’s camouflage and there is camouflage. These species go beyond just blending into the background, they practically become one with it, disguising themselves so well as leaves that you could spend hours looking at a tree without realizing you’re looking at more than just the tree itself!

Leaf-mimicking insects

Insects are old hats at mimicking leaves to fool predators. In fact, the strategy may have begun as far back at 47 million years ago and hasn’t changed a whole lot since then. After all, if you’ve already made yourself look like a leaf, the bulk of the evolutionary work is done. Sonja Wedmann of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat in Bonn, Germany, says, “This absence of evolutionary change is an outstanding example of morphological and, probably, behavioral stasis.”

Some of the more well known leaf-mimicking insects include some katydids, praying mantis, butterflies and moths. But the variety of species and their strategies, from size to shape to color, are as diverse as the leaves they mimic.

DiscoveringNewSpecies/CC BY 3.0

Hudson Museum of Natural History/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Hudson Museum of Natural History/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Adriatica!/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Anne Toal/CC BY 3.0

gmach/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Josiah Townsend/CC BY-ND-NC 1.0

ggallice/CC BY 3.0

balharsh/CC BY-NC 3.0


ggallice/CC BY 3.0

Andreas Kay/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


Leaf-Mimicking Lizards

Insects are the only ones that have figured out the brilliance of blending into the leaf-littered background. These lizards have also perfected their own strategies.

wren el renegade/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

bbum/CC BY-ND-NC 1.0

Leaf-Mimcking Geckos

Leaf-tail geckos are amazing at blending into the background. Different species have developed different ways of camouflaging themselves depending on the leaves that surround them, and each is as impressive as the next.

David dO/CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

wallygrom/CC BY-SA 3.0

muzzanese/CC BY-NC 3.0

reibai/CC BY 3.0

gr0uch0/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

wallygrom/CC BY-SA 3.0

Sadly, they may be good at hiding, but not good enough — according to Wikipedia: “Most are threatened due to deforestation and habitat loss, therefore more are taken out of the wild [for the pet trade] in areas that are being preped for being cut down. The World Wide Fund for Nature lists all the Uroplatus species on their “Top ten most wanted species” list of animals threatened by illegal wildlife trade, because of it ‘being captured and sold at alarming rates for the international pet trade’.”

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By Jaymi Heimbuch


Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

Insects are gorgeous!

Christine Jones
Christine J2 years ago

Brilliant; thanks so much for sharing. I had to take a second look at the yellow leaf, just beautiful.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

amazing critters

Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 4 years ago

I can watch this article again and again! They are really amazing!

Ruth Ann W.
Ruth Ann W4 years ago

Isn't Nature grand? So beautiful and brilliant.

Stardust Noel
Stardust Noel4 years ago

That is a great article, thanks !

Viviane K.
Past Member 4 years ago

This is like a miracle to look at these photos .

Judy Apelis
Judy A4 years ago

Very Interesting

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago

very nice