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Leaf's life. (Freeze Frame).

Don't be fooled by this leaf. The Southeast Asian leaf insect is a living imposter! A close relative of the walking stick, this 9 centimeter (3.5 inch)-long female imitates leaves at the Butterfly Pavilion & Insect Center in Westminster, Colorado. "Its camouflage is incredible," says curator John Watts.

The edges of the insect's large, leathery wings have a vein pattern and frayed edges similar to a real leaf that's been nibbled by hungry caterpillars. "The insect even has a rocking behavior that makes it appear like a leaf blowing in the breeze," says Watts.

These adaptive defenses prevent the leaf insect--also known as Phyllium bioculatum--from being munched on by predators like spiders, ants, and lizards. But there's one downside: These masters of disguise actually feed on leaves--and sometimes mistake one another for dinner!
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Title Annotation:Southeast Asian leaf insect
Author:Marcinkowski, Victoria
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Jan 24, 2003
Words:134
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