It’s amazing what just a few square feet of backyard habitat can yield.
A wiggle is the only thing that first caught the author’s eye.
Can you see the animal in these photos? Look closely.
The only reason this little guy’s cover was blown was that he chose a blade of grass rather than a stick to pose on. Well, that, and the fact that he stretched out and cast about for a moment in search of a new perch. That was the real give-away. But other than that, if not for the color difference he would have gone completely unnoticed – as you can see for yourself when you view the photos and video. Even when first detected, it took a few moments for the author to sort out head from tail and to fully grasp just what the little beast really was.
The ruse, when he remains motionless on an actual branch, is absolutely flawless. There are even bumps, creases and color variations along his body to simulate the bark and growth-patterns of a real twig. Look at his body shape and how he holds himself. Even his strong little legs mimic the tiny knobs on a stick.
He will dutifully venture to the end or highest point of his perch, then stretch out, motionless and twig-like, fooling predators and curious humans alike. Every inch the performer!
This fascinating little fellow is an as-yet-unidentified species of twig-caterpillar. More research is needed to determine what kind of moth he will become, although it seems he might be an Oak Besma, Besma quercivoraria.
Sightings like this are just one benefit of creating wildlife-friendly garden areas – better known as ‘backyard habitats’. By providing food (in the form of preferred wildflowers, shrubs etc.,) fresh water (both raised, for bathing birds, and ground-level , in the form of pools, for small thirsty critters like lizards and toads) and un-mowed areas of your lawn, a rock pile or other hiding places, you set out the welcome mat for wildlife in urban areas. Believe it nor not, the little caterpillar, salamander or beetle you help may just help a host of other, more ‘charismatic’ creatures (like birds) in their own struggle for survival.
Why not give ‘creating backyard habitat’ a try in your own yard?