Monday 13 February 2017


Image: Bernard DUPONT
It's a leaf.

A perfectly honest, perfectly innocent leaf, shivering in the wind.

Image: Robert Whyte
Tree Stump Spider (Poltys illepidus)
It's a twig.

A perfectly honest... twig...

Image: Robert Whyte
With... legs?

It's a spider!

Image: Robert Whyte
A spider, swathed in the robes of deceit, the pose of lies, the legs of duplicity, and the weird pointy bit of treachery.

In other words... camouflage (dun dun DUHHHHNN)!

Image: Vijay Anand Ismavel
It's pretty good camouflage (or mimicry), too.

There are more than 40 spiders in the genus Poltys, found in sub-Saharan Africa and the entire region from India to Japan and down to Australia.

Video: 自然谷

They build orb webs of traditional style each night, hopefully catching a few moths to make it all worthwhile.

As morning dawns, it's time to rest up. But the world is a dangerous place for a small spider, so they hide from it. And where better to hide than in plain view? Plain view is huge! If you can hide there, they'll never find you.

Video: hetaenn

Poltys spiders hug their little wood-looking legs against their little wood-looking bodies and suddenly it's not a spider anymore. It's a little wood-looking thing.

Or leaf-looking, depending on colour, texture and the dimensions of the weird pointy bit. Usually. the weirdest, pointiest ones look exactly like a dried up leaf stem.

Image: Bernard DUPONT
Tailed Spider (Poltys mouhoti)
Next time you invite a house plant to your home...

Be careful! It might be covered in SPIDERS!

Image: Robert Whyte
Next time you go out tree-hugging...

Oh no! You're hugging SPIDERS!

Image: Patrick Randall
What eight legs you have, grandma.

All the better to actually be a SPIDER with!


elfinelvin said...

That weird pointy bit is rather impressive. It's great camouflage when hiding and rather showy garb the rest of the time.

Joseph JG said...

It's weird how often camouflage is like that! Well, I guess it makes sense. A big, green plant kind of merges into the background in a rain forest but it's really showy in a hotel lounge. Gotta love animals that are so committed to mimicking a plant that they act the same way!

Unknown said...

(1) I give up, what's that wormy thing in the top photo? Part of the spidey, or its latest meal?
(2) Squirrels may also hide in plain sight: they flatten themselves to a surface e.g. a fence top. Emergency hiding.
(3) Also birds do it (don't know about bees). You've probably seen songbirds feeding on the ground. When they spot a bird of prey they become dead birds on the ground. As still as death until the danger's past.

Joseph JG said...

Wormy thing? Aside from the last picture (which shows a web), all the pictures show one spider standing on a twig. I guess you mean the thing that looks like a leaf stalk? That's part of the camouflage!

I don't think I've ever seen a squirrel do that, that's really cool! Mostly I just see them run.

Haven't seen birds do that either. There aren't many birds of prey where I live. Not sure something like that would work against a cat!