These flowery predators from southeast Asian rainforests might look like the flamboyant sort, but they’re actually ruthless killers. They use their camouflage, which mimics a flower petal, to attract and hide from their prey. When flies and other pollinators approach the flower with dreams of sweet nectar, the orchid mantis strikes.
Calling these guys “grasshoppers” might seem like a misnomer due to their sandy habitat (and perfectly matching camouflage), but they often use their camouflage to safely “hop” between brownish grasses adapted to sandy soils. Found in North America, they like sandy habitats with sparse grasses, such as the Western prairie.
Walking leaf insects are related to the walking sticks, but are in their own family (Phylliidae). As their name suggests, they have evolved to mimic leaves rather than sticks, though their long bodies allow them to take the form of a whole-leafed branch—so their camouflage is particularly advanced. They can even sway back and forth like a twig to blend in further.
These remarkably adaptable bugs are often used as a textbook example of natural selection in action.3 Originally they evolved their “peppered” design to blend in perfectly when resting on light-coloured trees and lichens. However, due to excess pollution during the Industrial Revolution in England, many lichens died out and trees became blackened with soot. This made it easier for predators to find the moths, so the population began to evolve a darker, sooty colouration.
Today, the lighter-colored moths are again commonplace, as environmental standards have improved.