Have you ever wondered why soldiers are always clad in green? This is to enable them to
camouflage themselves during wartime. Hiding in the jungles, their green attire blend into the
surrounding trees and shrubs, making it difficult for the enemies to spot them.
Long before man make use of camouflaging, insects have already adopted the tactic of
disguise to escape from the clutches of their predators. By having body colors close to those of the
rocks and dried leaves, they catch less attention from the predators and hence escape from being
pursued. However, this kind of disguise works only if the insects remain still in the presence of
Butterflies and moths have developed a variety of camouflage strategies since they are quite defenceless and their predators - birds are
abundant in supply. Many moth caterpillars resemble
dead twigs while the young of certain species of butterflies appear like bird droppings. Adult
butterflies and moths camouflage themselves too, in attempts to escape from their hunters
-- birds who are superior gliders. Possessing wings which
resemble dried leaves help certain butterflies
and moths to hide among heaps of dried leaves when predators are around.
Fortunately, not all insects choose the art of disguise to escape from their predators; otherwise,
the world would be so dull and colorless. There are insects which
assimilate the bright body colors
of bees and wasps to escape from being pursued by their predators. The concept of mimicry was
derived, owing to the bees and wasps. Long ago, birds have already learnt to avoid brilliantly
colored wasps and bees in fear of their painful stings. Hence, over millions of years, many harmless
insects have assimilated the bees and wasps by imitating their bright body colors and shapes. In
this way, they appear dangerous to their predators and hence
ward them off.
Mimics of the wasps and bees are most commonly found in the gardens. The furry, plump
bee-fly not only appears like the bumble bee in terms of body colors, even its hums sound similar
too. The only difference is that the bee-fly does not have a sting and is hence harmless. The
hoverfly is another insect which imitates the body colors of the wasps. Their bodies are striped
yellow and black. The only deviations are that hoverflies do not have stings and they have only
one pair of wings each while wasps have two pairs each. These variations are hardly noticed by
the predators and hence help them to escape.