Nature’s Pink Camouflage

Some insects are like rock stars: they like to be flashy and stick out with an unusual appearance. Yes, we’re talking about insects that sport a shocking pink color. If you’ve ever seen one and thought that was it, you were wrong; there are more! Find out why some insects wear shades of pink and which ones do so too. We’ve dug out six for you. Spot on.

Image: Tom Morse

6. The Pink Katydids: Punk Rock

Shocking pink katydid

Gotta love the name of the first insect: katydid. Try saying it fast: pink katydid. It has a ring to it, definitely. But we’re digressing. Here are the facts.

The pink coloring of some katydids is due to a condition called erythrism, an unusual reddish pigmentation that can affect an animal’s body, skin, feathers, hair or eggshells. It is caused by diet or a genetic mutation that either leads to the absence of a normal pigment or the excessive production of another. In katydids, the pink coloring might be a kind of camouflage that hides them on reddish or pinkish plants.

Image: Zi Sheng

What do you mean who painted me?

Katydids belong to the Tettigoniidae family and are also called bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers, though they are more closely related to crickets. Unlike grasshoppers, which have long, thick antennae, katydids have long, thin sensory appendages that can even exceed their own body length.


Katydid profile:

Of the more than 6,400 species of katydids, about 255 can be found in North America; the rest in the tropical regions of the world.


Pink, white and green katydid found in Osaka, Japan

Here are some green, pink and white katydids found in Japan. Their coloring usually ranges from green to brown, and therefore even the white katydid is considered abnormal, and probably an albino. The pink katydid is considered an extreme form of the brown katydid.

5. The Rose Dragonflies: Pop

Roseate Skimmer youngster spotted in Hong Kong

Who says pink is for girls? Males of the Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) are characterized by their bright pink body (abdomen, actually) whereas the females prefer orange shades. The younger the dragonfly, the brighter its pink tone. Mature males will develop a more bluish tint.


Gorgeous in pink

Roseate Skimmers are common in the Americas and can be found anywhere from the United States to Chile.

Image: mickeymox

4. Pink Mantis: Independent Rock

Pink beauty in front of a pink background

Did you know that praying mantises are more closely related to termites and cockroaches than to the more similar looking grasshoppers and crickets? Strange but true. Though they are known to prey on other insects, praying mantises are named for their prayer-like stance. More than 9,900 species are known and can be found mainly in the temperate and tropical climates of the world.

Praying mantises are masters of camouflage and take on the color of their surroundings both as protection from predators but also to blend in better and then trap unsuspecting prey.


3. The Pink Grasshoppers: Ska

Pink grasshopper taken in Norfolk, UK

As we have learned above, grasshoppers can be distinguished from katydids and crickets by their short, thick horns. Locusts are also grasshoppers, but those that change color – and their behavior – when population densities are high. Like praying mantises, grasshoppers use camouflage to blend in with their surroundings. This pinkish beauty below must live in a very colorful environment.

Image: Opo Terser

2. The Lonely Leafhoppers: Blues

Yellow and pink leafhopper close-up

From one hopper to the next – leafhoppers are plant-feeding insects of the Cicadellidae family, of which more than 20,000 species are known. They look like a simpler version of grasshoppers and have very short horns. The nymphs, especially, show all sorts of bright color variations.


1. The Pink Furry Moths: Country

Look into my eyes, baby

Rosy maple moths (Dryocampa rubicunda) have wingspans of 30-40 mm for males and 40-50 mm for females.

Image: Ezra F.

Here’s the delicate beauty in all its pink and yellow glory

Rosy maple moths have furry yellow bodies and pink wings with a distinct yellow triangle on them. As the name suggests, this North American moth prefers to feed on maples.


Image: svdmolen


Talk about a strawberry blond: Full body shot of rosy maple moth

Did you notice that some of the pink insects, like the rosy maple moth and the leafhopper, sport pink in conjunction with yellow, which happens to be the complementary color of pink? According to color theory, two colors are complementary when, if mixed in proper proportion, they produce a neutral color like grey, white or black. Who knows? Maybe the secret of some insects’ funky colors is somehow tied in with this fact. What is certain is that even when the daring coloring of insects like katydids isn’t confusing predators, it fulfills another purpose: attracting potential mates. Or should we say groupies?

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10