Insect. Perhaps this is one animal that makes us jump, run or swat at its mere presence in our vicinity! They are the largest class in the animal world, outnumbering all other animals. The largest insects today are certain stick insects about 0.3 m long and the atlas moth has a wingspan of about 0.33 m. they are also very commonly found in Gir, if one looks closely.
It is a pity one don't look at insects closely with interest. Insects are wildlife too and they are just about anywhere and everywhere to be seen. Here are four examples to give one a peek in the fascinating world of our little friends.
Moths are nocturnal insects that rest during the day. But simple camouflage is not enough to disguise the fact that they are edible. The solution: look repulsive, like a bird dropping! Few things are as unappealing as a fresh, shiny and watery bird dropping. Our moth can rest in the full glare of all the predators and yet go unnoticed!
This insect sits absolutely still, its front arms folded in
a praying position, ready to strike at an unsuspecting victim, and thus is
aptly named the Praying Mantis.
The Praying Mantis disguises itself as a twif not only to fool predators like birds and Frogs, but also to satisfy its voracious appetite. By merging with its surroundings, it is able to surprise its prey with a high degree of success and keep 'praying' for more.
Only the long, thin legs and antennae reveal the presence of this Blue Oakleaf Butterfly. When disturbed, it startles the predator by opening its brilliant blue coloured wings, then escapes to hide among dead leaves for a perfect cover. Many other such insects are capable of merging with fresh or dead leaves and even go to the extent of reproducing the intricate and delicate leaf veins! Such incredible efforts at survival rarely go in 'vain'
The Looper Caterpillar attaches itself to the plant at the
same angle as the real stalks, thus escaping detection.
From staying still to being mimics, from disguise to deceit, from appearing toxic to having huge eye-like markings, from changing shape and colour to faking death, from possessing harmful chemicals to a shield of armour - the world of small wildlife is breathtaking to observe, provided one has the eyes and time for it. By all means enjoy the Lions and the Leopards, but learn to observe the captivating ways of the Loopers, Lacewings and Ladybirds too.