Why Giant Leaf Insect Nymphs Shimmy Up Trees Just to Remain Perfectly Still for the Rest of Their Lives

In a vellicative episode of the KQED series Deep Look, host Lauren Sommer explains the life cycle of the amazing, camouflaging giant Malaysian leaf insect. Sommer particularly notes how the juveniles perform a highly active, shimmying dance all the way up the nearest tree, only to remain completely still for the rest of their lives.

The active young nymphs start out brown, and transform gradually – taking on a little more green over time. …But this nymph still has a big migration to make – getting into a tree – undetected. So, it sways. Yep, like a leaf in the breeze. That funky little walk is all leaf – a dance of disguise. When it finally ascends, it’ll settle in seamlessly like this adult…It may never move from the same tree, living its whole life as a cunningly concealed copy-cat.

Swaying Nymph Leaf

Young Leaf Insect Shimmying

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.