A Photoshoot With a Leaf Insect

A Photoshoot With a Leaf Insect

When we think about it, everyone does everything for survival. Job, family, house, car, food .. Those are just facts that ensure the survival. Those may provide comfort happiness and anything else, but when you think about it, it is just all about survival. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains this well. 

Nature has always had everything perfectly balanced in a complex system. Nature’s designer must have an ultra super brain to be able to plan everything from a tiny bacteria to a huge elephant’s organism perfectly.

Nature in Digital Eye Srilanka img_20160609_131854Today I had the chance to take some pictures of a leaf insect and observe it closely. It was able to take some photos as it was just hanging on to a plant and didn’t seem to be afraid of me. 

Those tiny feathers are identical to actual tree leaves. They mimic the tree leaf as a survival strategy. I remembered the science lesson about them in 6th grade. My teacher bought an alive leaf insect in a bottle for us to observe and there was a small branch of a Guava tree for the insect to eat as well as for us to compare the resemblance of the features with the leaves. It was one of those things that had me astonished as a kid and I went home wondering if my teacher will be able to send the insect back to its family.


Another marvel of nature!

Leaf Insect (Phasmatodea)

More Information

The Phasmatodea (also known as Phasmida or Phasmatoptera) are an order of insects, whose members are variously known as stick insects in Europe and Australasia; stick-bugs, walking sticks or bug sticks in the United States and Canada; or as phasmids, ghost insects or leaf insects (generally the family Phylliidae). The group’s name is derived from the Ancient Greek φάσμα phasma, meaning an apparition or phantom, referring to the resemblance of many species to sticks or leaves.

Their natural camouflage makes them difficult for predators to detect, but many species have a secondary line of defence in the form of startle displays, spines or toxic secretions. The genus Phobaeticus includes the world’s longest insects.

Antipredator adaptations

Phasmatodea species exhibit mechanisms for defense from predators that prevent an attack from happening in the first place (primary defense), and defenses that are deployed after an attack has been initiated (secondary defense).

The defense mechanism most readily identifiable with Phasmatodea is camouflage, in the form of plant mimicry. Most phasmids are known for effectively replicating the forms of sticks and leaves, and the bodies of some species (such as Pseudodiacantha macklotti and Bactrododema centaurum) are covered in mossy or lichenous outgrowths that supplement their disguise. Remaining absolutely stationary enhances their disguise.Some species have the ability to change color as their surroundings shift (Bostra scabrinota, Timema californica).

In a further behavioral adaptation to supplement crypsis, a number of species perform a rocking motion where the body is swayed from side to side; this is thought to mimic the movement of leaves or twigs swaying in the breeze. Another method by which stick insects avoid predation and resemble twigs is by entering a cataleptic state, where the insect adopts a rigid, motionless posture that can be maintained for a long period. The nocturnal feeding habits of adults also help Phasmatodea to remain concealed from predators.

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*Information Source: EN Wikipedia
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