Photo: Transformer Caterpillar Flips Over to Become a Scary Snake

Close up of a caterpillar standing on a leaf

Andreas Kay / flickr

Well if it isn't the ol' snake-mimic caterpillar! Otherwise known as Hemeroplanes triptolemus, this shape-shifting larva of a sphinx moth has one of the dandiest of tricks to perform when feeling threatened. It flips up its back section to reveal a perfectly rendered snake face, complete with white spots acting as the reflection of light. Incredible! It also mimics snake behavior with actual darting gestures. If I were a bird, I'd stay so far away. Thank you to photographer Andreas Kay who took this remarkable photo in the Amazon rainforest near Puyo, Ecuador. (See more of these masters of mimicry here: 10 spectacular caterpillars that look like snakes.) Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on flickr and add your pictures to the group. This updated post was originally posted in 2016.