Photo: Tricky caterpillar disguises self as feather

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Our photo of the day is a lesson in fooling your enemies.

Being that caterpillars are a fantastic source of protein and aren't known for their speed and agility, a good disguise is one of their best defenses. (They also do pretty well with stinging toxins.) Whether mimicking scary snakes, leaves, sticks, or moss ... there seems to be little shortage of camouflaging adaptations. In the case of the caterpillar shown in this photograph by Andreas Kay, shot in Ecuador, the costume takes the form of a feather! Kay writes:

This Caterpillar filmed near Mindo in Ecuador looks like a feather which presumably gives it an advantage in the struggle for survival since predators such as birds will not perceive it as food.

There are more than 3500 species of butterflies and some 10000 of moths in Ecuador and their larvae have evolved different strategies to escape predators. Some hide in the vegetation due to camouflage coloration, others resemble a stick or moss or mimic bird droppings. Bagworms build cases out of silk and materials such as leafs, wood and soil as camouflage...

But this is an exceptional case of a caterpillar disguised as a feather. It even makes steps back as it moves as if it was agitated by the wind!

See the groovy guy in action below; marvel at the wonders of Mother Nature.

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