The 6 Stealthiest Disguises in the Animal Kingdom

Plenty of animals rely on their ability to hide. There's no shame in your cowardice, non-human friends: Nature is a harsh and unforgiving hellhole -- we'd hide too. But some creatures are so good at blending in to their environment that it goes beyond mere camouflage and turns into a kind of performance art. We've shown you a few of them before. Here are even more critters that could very well be in front of you right now -- if you are reading this from a desert, a swamp, or the bottom of the sea, that is.

(Luckily, there are no terrible spiders that look exactly like computer mice. Or...are there?)

#6. The Fruit Fly That's Got a Posse

Peter Roosenschoon

Images of ants -- or possibly jumping spiders -- appear to have been airbrushed onto Goniurellia tridens' translucent wings, much like a WWII fighter plane, or the hood of a Pontiac. And they don't just "kind of" look like ants or jumping spiders -- like when the narrator in a nature documentary tells you some bullshit fish has a "terrifying face" because of its measly butt-spots. Look at 'em: Those are downright artistic portraits of its own friggin' predators on its wings.

via Guardian Liberty Voice
The fly itself's still ugly as fuck, but those wings are exquisite.

Why are these bugs sporting wing tattoos? Is it ironic, like a hipster with a finger mustache? Did jumping spiders save their lives back in 'Nam? Was it some sort of ant initiation? Without an informant in one of the major ant gangs, we can't know for certain (and there is some doubt that the shapes are even intentional), but it's been proposed that the fruit flies are trying to scare off potential predators by making it appear as though they're already being eaten, are surrounded by dangerous creatures, or are the dangerous creature themselves. Any way you cut it, the lesson is simple: "I'm more trouble than the meal is worth, homey."

Topeka's News
"The last two who tried wound up dead and nailed to my ass."

This kind of things isn't exactly novel. In fact, there are all kinds of different fruit flies with weird wing markings that they'll wave at spiders to trick them into backing down, thus earning the species their nickname "the frontin'est motherfuckers in nature."

#5. Moss-Mimicking Walking Sticks Are Forest "Ghosts"

Dan Doucette

What you're looking at up there is the moss-mimic walking stick of the order Phasmatodea. "Phasm" is derived from the Latin word for "apparition" or "ghost," which is fitting. These things are so good at looking like a random piece of jungle schmutz that we're having trouble picturing how they were discovered in the first place. Did some hapless explorer just go around poking everything in the jungle and naming the stuff that moved?

Glenn Bartley
If it didn't move, it'd probably just be some stupid moss that cures cancer.

Trychopeplus laciniatus lives high up in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and stakes its entire existence on not looking like what it is. They come in many varieties: There's a hulking species from off the coast of Australia that looks more like a sausage than a stick, and even a flying, thorn-covered one that menacingly waves its ass in the air to trick you into thinking it's a scorpion. Of course, the illusion falls apart a bit if you get an extreme close-up of our mossy little friend:

Robert Oleman
Just a harmless creature like you or me.

Some bugs achieve a similar effect by piling bits of random crap on their back, but everything you see on moss-mimic walking sticks are all parts of their chitinous exoskeleton. They can't fly, they move very slowly, and are in all likelihood quite stupid. But none of that matters when your own mother can't tell the difference between you and forest rubbish.

#4. Dead Leaf Moths Are Pretty Much Exactly as Advertised

Wei-Chun Chang

While moths might be generally thought of as the lowbrow, hillbilly cousins of butterflies, a few of them do have some fancy tricks up their sleeves. For example:

via Shipher Wu
You will step on it, to hear the satisfying *crunch*.

We swear there is a moth in the above photo. Uropyia meticulodina, in fact -- the Chinese moth that's a dead ringer for dead vegetation. It goes far beyond mere pattern replication: Look at the shadows, the veins, the curling effect -- that is a normal-shaped moth, the wings are not curled up around itself or anything. It's all just a natural optical illusion worthy of M.C. Escher.

Of course, the illusion falls apart a bit once the moth opens up its wings to fly around. Just like Escher drawings, the dead leaf moth relies on precise angles of viewing to trick the eye, and its disguise pretty much only works in profile. Still, we'd like you to imagine yourself executing a flawless autumnal cannonball into a pile of leaves, only to have them all flap away right before you hit. You would never trust this world again.

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