There are literally millions of insect species in the world, and as you might expect, they have developed many different ways to blend in with their surroundings and hide from predators. Some insects do this by taking on the appearance of leaves, twigs, or other plant materials. In this article, we’ll talk specifically about insects that look like leaves.
What You'll Learn Today
- Insects That Look Like Leaves
- 1. Leaf Insects
- 2. Dead Leaf Mantises
- 3. Peruvian Shield Mantises
- 4. Ghost Mantises
- 5. Indian Leafwing Butterflies
- 6. Blue Oakleaf Butterflies
- 7. Autumn Leaf Butterflies
- 8. Common Brimstone Butterflies
- 9. Maple Spanworm Moths
- 10. Gum Emerald Moths
- 11. Uropyia Meticulodina
- 12. Green Fruit-Piercing Moths
- 13. Katydids
- 14. Leaf Katydids
- 15. Dead Leaf Grasshoppers
Insects That Look Like Leaves
1. Leaf Insects
There are over 50 species of leaf insects in the world, though they are primarily found in tropical areas of Asia and Australia.
These unique bugs don’t all look alike, but they do have one thing in common: they look incredibly like leaves. They live in areas of dense vegetation, so they blend in easily with their surroundings and, when they are sitting still, can be almost impossible to spot.
These insects become green by eating leaves, and as they grow, they often develop appearances similar in shape and color to specific types of leaves. They may even develop the appearances of veins, disease spots, and holes in the leaves.
2. Dead Leaf Mantises
The dead leaf mantis is found in South America. It is a type of praying mantis that has a remarkable ability to mimic the appearance of dead leaves.
Their dark brown colors give them the ability to blend in with their surroundings on the rainforest floor, as well as while sitting on trees or other plants. However, the undersides of their bodies are a bright reddish-orange color, which they show off when they feel threatened in an attempt to frighten away enemies.
Like other praying mantises, dead leaf mantises capture and eat insects. They use their leaflike appearance to camouflage so their prey doesn’t spot them.
3. Peruvian Shield Mantises
These praying mantises are primarily found in Central America, but they can be found in parts of North and South America as well.
These green insects, when seen from above, look like narrow, veined leaves. They have a distinctive round “shield” over the thorax.
As you might imagine, these mantises blend in well with the lush green forests of their environment. They primarily hunt insects and will vibrate like leaves shaking in the breeze if they feel threatened.
4. Ghost Mantises
Ghost mantises also belong to the family of praying mantises. They are found in parts of Africa.
These mantises have the brown, shriveled-up appearance of old, dead leaves. They are almost unrecognizable as mantises due to the striking leaflike appearance of their bodies.
Interestingly, females of this species will often play dead when they feel threatened. Both males and females typically live in shrubbery and low-growing bushes, where they are sometimes indistinguishable from real dried-up leaves hanging from the branches.
5. Indian Leafwing Butterflies
Despite its name, this butterfly is actually found in Indonesia. When its wings are folded, it has the striking appearance of a brown leaf.
The open wings appear bright blue and yellow with eye-like markings. This butterfly displays its open wings when it feels threatened.
Meanwhile, the drab brown leaflike appearance of its underwings keeps it hidden from predators most of the time, particularly while it is resting among the leaves of a shrub.
6. Blue Oakleaf Butterflies
These butterflies are very similar to the leafwing butterflies described above, but they are found in India instead of Indonesia.
They have beautiful iridescent blue, gray, silver, and white markings on the topsides of their wings; the undersides are brownish and have a veiny appearance that makes them look very much like leaves.
7. Autumn Leaf Butterflies
Autumn leaf butterflies are found in the forests of Asia and Australia. Their wings are a pale yellow color on top and have a brownish, leaflike appearance on the underside.
Whenever they are disturbed, these butterflies will fly to the nearest plant or tree so they can blend in with the dead leaves, effectively hiding from potential predators.
8. Common Brimstone Butterflies
Common brimstone butterflies are found in North America and parts of Europe. Their wings are shaped similarly to leaves.
Instead of the drab brown coloring of the other butterflies on this list, common brimstones have pale yellow wings, both on the topsides and undersides. This gives them the appearance of a leaf beginning to fade and die.
9. Maple Spanworm Moths
Maple spanworm moths are found in parts of North America. They are small, but their brownish color and the shape of their wings give them the appearance of a fallen leaf.
These moths are primarily found in Canada, though they are common in some regions of the United States as well. The well-defined edges of their wings look like the points of a leaf, and the spots and other markings on the brown wings enable them to blend in well with their surroundings.
10. Gum Emerald Moths
Common gum emerald moths, found in Australia, are rather plain-looking moths. They have flat, green wings with almost no markings on them.
The color alone gives them the appearance of a leaf. Their name is due to this green coloring, along with the fact that a primary food source for their young is the leaves of the gum tree.
11. Uropyia Meticulodina
This moth, which has no common name, is found in Asia and looks incredibly similar to a curled-up dead leaf.
It has folded, brownish wings resembling the shape of a curled leaf, and the markings and lines on its wings add to this effect, giving it a surprising 3D appearance.
Check out this short video to see the incredible leaf-mimicry of these moths in action:
12. Green Fruit-Piercing Moths
These small moths are found in parts of Asia and Australia. As the name suggests, they feed on various tropical fruits such as mango, kiwi, banana, citrus, and figs.
They are typically green, white, or brown in color, and their folded wings have curled-up edges that make them look very similar to a small leaf. This makes it easy for them to blend into the vegetation of the forests they call home.
Katydids are bright green insects belonging to the grasshopper family. There are many species found in various parts of the world, but the North American katydid is one of the best at leaf mimicry.
This insect uses its leaflike appearance for two purposes: to hide from predators and to avoid being seen by prey. Its leaf-shaped back, as noted, is bright green, and it is veined to give it the appearance of a folded leaf.
14. Leaf Katydids
Another type of katydid, appropriately named the leaf katydid, is found in parts of North, Central, and South America.
This katydid is pale green and mossy white in color. Its body has well-defined edges that make it look like a partially-eaten leaf.
These insects live mostly in tropical forest regions and use their leaflike appearance to try and hide from predators.
15. Dead Leaf Grasshoppers
Dead-leaf grasshoppers are funny-looking insects found only in Malaysia. They have brown bodies that blend in almost seamlessly with the leaflike flairs on their backs.
Dead leaf grasshoppers have a veined, spotted appearance that further adds to their camouflage ability. If you were to see one of these grasshoppers sitting still in a pile of leaves, you might not be able to tell the insect apart from the leaves.
As you can see, there are many insects in the world that look like leaves–and this is only a partial list. Some of the insects on this list include various butterflies, moths, praying mantises, katydids, and leaf insects.