Power & Beauty: Camouflage

soybeen-looperThis creature is the Soybean Looper (Chrysodeixis includens), a moth considered a “pest.” In parts of the world, it decimates soybean crops. Also likes to munch on members of the cabbage family.

Chrysodeixis is a “scientific” word-conglomerate that indicates “golden pointer,” as near as I can tell. And if you look at the critter, you’ll see its little gold finger. “Looper” because its caterpillar stage is one of those green ones that hump up in the middle (making a loop) as it walks.

Look at its eye. Insect eyes are not like ours (see the wonderful Evolution’s Witness, by Ivan Schwab, on the evolution of the marvelous eyes of this planet). They are basically a strip of many eyes, called “ommatidia.” The specific form varies by species, and I have not found a description of this one. Moth eyes are geared to seeing at night (light sensitivity) or by day (color information) or in some species active at both times, both. But in the photo, this one looks as it is staring right at me, through the rust bristles that look like bark detritus, as if to say, “I’m not here, really.” It even has what passes as a catch light – that bright spot light puts in vertebrate eyes.

Taken all together, this is the most queerly formed camouflage I’ve seen – lumpy and hairy and resembling old splintered wood.

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