Camouflage in nature



Bali 2009
This gliding lizard (Draco volans) is almost invisible, sitting on the lichen-covered trunk of a betel palm (Areca catechu), Bali, Indonesia. This species is found in Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is also called flying lizard, which is not a very descriptive name, as it is not able to truly fly, but glides from one tree to another by spreading out its ribs, which are connected by a wing-like membrane, called a patagia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Island-Færøerne 1999
This nest of a Eurasian golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) at Þingvellir, Iceland, is very well camouflaged, as the pattern on the eggs resemble the straw and lichens, surrounding the nest. This bird is breeding in Arctic and Northern Temperate areas, from Iceland and Scotland in the west, across northern Europe to central Siberia. Further east, it is replaced by the Pacific golden plover (P. fulva), whose breeding area reaches western Alaska, and in North America by the American golden plover (P. dominica). All three are very similar, with golden-speckled back and black breast in breeding plumage. The generic name Pluvialis is from the Latin pluvia = ‘rain’. Formerly, it was believed that when golden plovers flocked, it would mean imminent rain. In Icelandic folklore, the arrival of the first golden plover means that spring has come. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Californien 2011a
Nepal 2008
Costa Rica-2
Costa Rica-2
Praying mantises are a very successful group of insects, comprising more than 2,400 species, distributed worldwide in tropical and subtropical areas. They are ambush hunters, sitting motionless in the vegetation, waiting for suitable prey to approach. Their forelegs are enlarged and hooked, adapted for snatching and holding prey. As they sit there with their forelegs folded, like this Californian praying mantis (Stagmomantis californica) (top), photographed in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, California, their posture is not unlike a praying person, which gave rise to their common name. However, ‘preying mantis’ would be a more proper name! Praying mantises are often remarkably well camouflaged, resembling a withered grass stem, like this one in Helambu, Nepal (second from above), or a leaf, like this on of the genus Choeradodis from Cordillera de Tilarán, Costa Rica (two bottom pictures). (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Filippinerne 1984
This moon crab, of the genus Matuta, is completely covered in a growth of sea algae, making it almost invisible. – Mindoro, Philippines. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Fyn 1967-2004
The common eider (Somateria mollissima) has an almost circumpolar distribution, found along Arctic coasts in Europe, eastern Siberia, and North America. However, it also breeds in some northern temperate areas, like this incubating female, photographed on the Mågeøerne Islands, Funen, Denmark. The mottled plumage of the bird blends in very well with the washed-up seaweeds, in which she has placed her nest. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Goa 2008
This bush frog of the genus Pseudophilautus is well camouflaged among withered leaves on the forest floor in Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa, India. This genus, belonging to the family Rhacophoridae, comprises about 80 species, restricted to Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats of southern India. Many of the species are highly endangered, and some are already extinct. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Indonesien 1985
This tiny crab blends in very well with the grey sand on a beach, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Island-Færøerne 1999
From a distance, this incubating purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima) is almost impossible to spot among the withered grass on Selvogsheiði Moor, southern Iceland. I only found this nest, because I observed the bird from my car, when it was relieving its incubating mate. This small wader breeds in the Arctic tundra, in northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, along the Scandinavian mountain range, and in western Siberia, spending the winter along shores of north-western Europe and the North American Atlantic Coast. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Filippinerne 1984
This thin, green spider in Banawe, Luzon, Philippines, resembles the nerves on the underside of a leaf. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Jylland 1967-76
I nearly stepped on these juvenile little terns (Sternula albifrons), before I noticed them, flattening themselves among pebbles at Nissum Fjord, Jutland, Denmark. This species has a very wide breeding distribution, with main strongholds in west-central Asia and the Far East, and with scattered populations in Europe, western Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Guinea. In the 20th Century, most European populations declined drastically due to habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2010
This hairy caterpillar in Malabang National Forest, Hsinchu, Taiwan, is well camouflaged, sitting on a yellow leaf. Note the black spot on its body, resembling a hole in the leaf. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Ladakh 2000
A Himalayan marmot (Marmota himalayana) surveys its domain among lichen-covered boulders in the Markha Valley, Ladakh, India, blending in very well with its surroundings. This giant squirrel lives in underground dens in high-altitude grasslands throughout the Himalaya and on the Tibetan Plateau, at altitudes between 3,500 and 5,200 metres. – Other marmot species are presented elsewhere on this website, see Animals: Squirrels of North America. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydøstasien 1975
Tanzania 1989
As their name implies, stick insects, or walking sticks, of the order Phasmatodea, resemble sticks, or withered grass stems, making them difficult for predators to spot. They are found on all continents, except Antarctica, with most species in the Tropics. Stick insects can grow fairly large, as this one on Sumatra, Indonesia (top). The largest species, in Borneo, has a body length up to 35 centimetres. The one in the lower picture is from Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania. (Photos copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Malaysia 1984-85
An extremely well camouflaged sea slug, rasping off algae from the surface of a rock, Pulau Kapas Island, Malaysia. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Myanmar 2007
This grasshopper in Bagan, Myanmar, resembles the withered grass around it. Note plenty of red mites on its body. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nepal 2009
This moth is almost invisible, sitting on a fallen leaf of a tail-leaved maple (Acer caudatum), Tharepati, Helambu, Nepal. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Nordindien 1991
Yellow scorpion in yellow sand. – I found it one morning, hidden under my bedding, when on a trip into the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India. Read more about this trip on this website, see Travel episodes: India 2003 – Camel safari in the Thar Desert. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Sydafrika 2003
These plants of the genus Lithops remarkably resemble the pebbles, among which they grow. This genus of the ice-plant family (Aizoaceae), comprising about 37 species, are confined to South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. The generic name is from the Greek lithos (‘stone’) and ops (‘face’), referring to the similarity of these plants to small stones. Popular names include ‘living stones’ and ‘pebble plants’. These were photographed on Knersvlakte (‘Grinding Plain’), near Vanrhynsdorp, South Africa. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Taiwan 2010
An almost invisible moth, sitting on bark next to a cocoon, Chingshuian Recreation Area, Taiwan. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



Tanzania 1989
This grasshopper in Rondo Forest, southern Tanzania, remarkably resembles a withered leaf. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



USA 1992
As its name implies, the canyon tree frog (Hyla arenicolor) lives in rocky areas, as this one, blending in well with a rock face in Grand Canyon, Arizona. This species is distributed in south-western United States and in Mexico, south to the state of Oaxaca. (Photo copyright © by Kaj Halberg)



(Uploaded February 2018)


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