Readers’ wildlife videos

We are really running low on readers’ wildlife photos, so if you have some good ones, now’s the time to send them in.

Today we have two videos by the late photographer and naturalist Andreas Kay from Ecuador.  The first is a caterpillar presumably mimicking a feather—a form of mimicry new to me.  Andreas’s YouTube notes:

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 vegatation due to camouflage coloration, others resemble a stick or moss or mimick bird droppings.

Bagworms build cases out of silk and materials such as leafs, wood and soil as camouflage, such as this Pagoda bagworm: Other caterpillars on the contrary are highly colorful (aposematic coloration) to warn potential predators that they are unpaltable or even toxic or have venemous spines. Some caterpillars expose fake eyes to deter predators, such as this snake mimic caterpillar from Ecuador:

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.

And some slow-motion photography of a beetle. The carapace could be regarded as vestigial wings, as it evolved from wings in an ancestor:

Tortoise beetles, Cassidinae own their name to the carapace under which they can find shelter like a tortoise, with the difference that their carapace can open for flight. This species with the scientific name Stolas coalita is from the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador.


  1. jezgrove
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Amazing mimicry!

  2. rickflick
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    The feather mimic has an extension of the Rachis (main shaft) out front to add to realism. How did she ever think of doing that?

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted July 2, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      And why does it do the back step. Does it feel soft and silky like a feather?

  3. Posted July 2, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The feather mimic is very plausible. What could add to it is the strong bilateral symmetry of the fur coat, as it presents a more feather-like shape.
    Hairy caterpillars are generally thought to be protective, not so much for mimicry but by other means. The hairs are a mechanical deterrent to ants and small parasitic insects. And they can be very irritating to predators.

  4. Posted July 2, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I’m guessing there is a Japanese giant flying tortoise movie. If not, there should be.

  5. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful slow motion movie of beetle taking off!

    • Posted July 2, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Nice setup with the white background too.

  6. Posted July 2, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    These are incredible!

  7. Don Mackay
    Posted July 2, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    The filming of the beetle take off is interesting. It seems that take cannot happen until both second legs are off the ground, suggesting a switch mechanism that turns on the flying muscles. Presumably wingbeat will cease when the two second legs are grounded on landing. Any thoughts?

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