The Common Baron Caterpillar is a true master of camouflage. When it positions itself perfectly on a mango tree leaf, it’s almost impossible to see, even if you know it’s there.
Some animals naturally develop camouflage to make them harder for predators to see, but some are much better than others, and some blend in perfectly with their natural environment. The Common Baron Caterpillar (Euthalia aconthea), native to India and Southeast Asia, falls into the latter category. It evolved to blend so well with its preferred background that it is almost impossible to see.
Photo: Where to emigrate / Flickr
The nymphalid butterfly lays its eggs on the back of mango leaves, and it is from these eggs that the stealth master known as the common baron emerges. As the larvae grow in size, they develop a yellow line on their back and pine needle-like extensions that help them better navigate their surroundings.
On its own, the common baron caterpillar doesn’t look particularly impressive. If anything, the branched extensions on the legs just look weird. But seeing it in its natural habitat, perfectly matched to the trunk of large mango leaves (its favorite food) is a whole different story.
Even knowing that a caterpillar is sitting on a mango leaf, you really have to focus to distinguish it from its background. That’s how incredibly effective their natural camouflage is. The common baron evolved into a master of camouflage to increase his chances of avoiding predators until he reached the butterfly stage.
The nymphalid butterfly doesn’t blend in well with its surroundings. The male is brown in color and the female is a lighter shade of green.
The Common Baron Caterpillar is just the latest in a long line of formidable masters of natural camouflage we’ve covered on OC over the years. Check out Kallima inachus, the dead leaf butterfly, that caterpillar that looks like a creepy skull, or the Malay tree frog.