Cryptic creatures

Cryptic creatures

Nightjar © David Tipling/2020VISION

Camouflage is key

In a world of eat or be eaten, animals are coming up with clever tricks to hide themselves away. Cryptic colouration (being hidden from sight) or mimicry (making yourself look like something else) are two of the easiest ways to avoid becoming someone's dinner.


Nightjar © David Tipling/2020VISION

1. Nightjar

As the name suggests, the nightjar is a nocturnal bird, so it hunts at night. During the day, it nestles down into the leaf litter below the trees or on a heathland floor. With its speckled brown heathers and flattened shape, it looks amazingly like a piece of wood. Even the best of hunters can't spot it!

Buff-tip moth

Buff-tip moth © Vaughn Matthews

2. Buff-tip moth

If you were looking for a buff-tip moth on a tree or bush you might have to check every twig you see. This amazing creature has a pale head and brown and grey wings. This makes it look exactly like a twig which has been snapped off. A cracking disguise!

Ringed plover

Ringed plover © Tom Hibbert

3. Ringed plover

Ringed plovers nest on the bare ground of a pebble or shingle beach, so it would be very easy for a predator to gobble up their tasty eggs. But luckily the eggs are speckled to make them look like pebbles and the adults have brown backs to help them blend in and hide whilst they're sitting on them.

Brimstone butterfly

Brimstone butterfly © Vaughn Matthews

4. Brimstone butterfly

The brimstone butterfly sleeps away the cold winter in its adult form. So as not to be a mid-winter treat for any passing predator, the wings of this yellow butterfly are pointed, to look like autumn leaves. With its clever disguise it can wake up safely the next spring to lay its eggs.

Hoverfly (Syrphus torvus)

Hoverfly (Syrphus torvus) © Chris Lawrence

5. Hoverflies

There are many different types of hoverflies across the world, but many of them play a clever game to avoid being eaten. They pretend to be wasps and bees! They scare away predators with their black and yellow striped bodies, even though they are completely harmless.