Blue Sky Science: How do beetles use camouflage?

Avery Nelson


How do beetles use camouflage?

Beetles are an extremely diverse group of insects on the planet. There are about a million or more described species of insects, that we know of so far, and of those about 400,000 are beetles.

Some beetles use camouflage, while others are very easy to spot like lady beetles, which we can see on plants and on the side of buildings at certain times of the year.

When it comes to camouflage, there are plenty of beetle species that blend in because they have brown or black coloration. If you go to sandy areas, there are certain tiger beetles that have beige colors on their body and can blend in very well. Mottled color patterns are a common type of camouflage that enables blending in with natural features in the world.

In other examples, beetles can mimic something in particular. There are long-horned beetles that blend in very well on the bark or on branches of trees. Some leaf beetles mimic droppings of insects or other animals on leaves that they blend in.

Some beetles mimic other insects, like longhorn beetles. They have black and yellow, very vibrant flashy patterns on their bodies and mimic things like paper wasps and yellow jackets. They give a false appearance of being dangerous when they’re really harmless creatures.

Other beetles will camouflage themselves to look and actually smell like ants, using some chemical camouflage as well. Beetles and other insects can use camouflage for a number of different reasons. The biggest reason is to avoid predators or keep them at bay.