nimalDefenses Animal AnimAl BehAvior t Animal Communication Animal Courtship Animal Defenses Animal Hunting and Feeding Animal Life in Groups Animal Migration Defenses ChristinA WilsDon Animal Animal Behavior: Animal Defenses Copyright ? 2009 by Infobase Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Animal defenses / Christina Wilsdon. p. cm. — (Animal behavior) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-60413-089-8 (hardcover) 1. Animal defenses. I. Title. II. Series. QL759. W55 2009 591. 47—dc22 2008040116 Chelsea House books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions.
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Caption: A thorny devil, native to Australia, is camouflaged in shades of desert browns and tans. The spikes on its body also help protect it from predators. Contents 1 Avoiding Danger 2 Escape Artists 3 Animal Armor 4 Bad Smells, Bad Tastes, and Powerful Poisons 5 Venomous Stings and Bites 6 Mimicry Fighting Back Glossary Bibliography Further Resources Picture Credits Index About the Author 7 22 38 55 73 91 107 124 126 128 130 131 136 1 Avoiding Danger A cheetAh skulks through the tall grass of the African savannah. Head lowered, she stares intently at a herd of gazelles.
Her spotted coat blends in with the dry grass, making her nearly invisible as she sneaks up on her prey. The gazelles continue to graze. Between bites of grass, each one snaps up its head to check out its surroundings. Bright eyes scan the horizon. Ears swivel to pick up the slightest sound. Nostrils flare to sniff for the scent of a cheetah, lion, or other hungry predator. Suddenly, a few gazelles snort and stamp their feet. The entire herd goes on high alert. The black bands that run down the gazelles’ sides quiver, passing along the message: “Danger! Then, some of the gazelles begin bouncing as if on pogo sticks. They spring high in the air with their backs arched and legs stiff. They land on all fours, and then leap again. The cheetah pauses. The gazelles have seen her. It is impossible to launch a surprise attack now. The cheetah depends on one short-lived, startling burst of speed to chase down a gazelle. The gazelles, however, also run fast, hitting speeds of up to 40 miles (64 km) an hour—and they can keep up this speed much longer 8 AnimAl deFenses This female springbok, a kind of antelope, bounces into the air with an rched back and stiff legs. This motion is called stotting or pronking. Springbok typically use it to show predators that they are ? t and hard to catch. Research shows that cheetahs often avoid hunting stotting springbok. than a cheetah can. Their odd jumping behavior, called stotting, signals to the cheetah, “We have seen you, so do not bother to chase us—we are strong and healthy and can outrun you. ” If the cheetah is lucky, perhaps she will find a gazelle fawn hidden in the grass. However, the fawns have tawny coats and can lie still as a stone for a long time.
Plus, the fawns’ mothers are Avoiding danger 9 careful not to give the cheetah any clues as to where their young are hiding. Like most wild animals, gazelles are always watching out for danger. Most often, that danger is another animal—in this case, a hungry cheetah. Even domestic animals, such as horses, sheep, and chickens, are on the alert for any threat to their safety. Being alert is the first step an animal takes to defend itself. It is one of many behaviors that animals use to survive in a world filled with predators. Much of an animal’s self-defense behavior comes from within it.
Most animals are born “knowing” how to defend themselves. Scientists call this inborn knowledge instinct. selF-deFense Over millions of years, the many different kinds, or species, of animals have developed ways of defending themselves. Animals might use protective colors, sharp spines, and excellent hearing. An animal has its defensive tools at the ready all the time, whether or not it is in danger. They are known as primary defenses. The gazelle’s primary defenses include its horns, its keen senses, and its speed. A gazelle fawn’s primary defenses include its ability to lie still and its concealing coat color.
An animal’s primary defenses are backed up by behaviors known as secondary defenses. The animal uses its secondary defenses when it confronts a predator. A gazelle uses secondary defenses when it stamps, stots, and runs away—or if it is caught by a cheetah or other predator. Gazelle fawns use the most basic form of self-defense: avoid being noticed. Like the fawns, many animals evade detection by hiding, freezing, or blending in with their habitat. This is called crypsis (crypsis comes from a Greek word that means “hidden. ”) 10 AnimAl deFenses lying low Many animals hide to avoid being noticed.
Turn over a stone or stir a pile of leaves to reveal a world of hidden creatures: a worm squirming in the sudden burst of light, a rolled-up pill bug, a centipede quickly scurrying out of sight, tiny springtails, and even tinier mites. Trees and other plants harbor animals seeking hideaways. Insects hide under leaves, along stems, and under scraps of bark. Pale trails winding through a leaf show where the larvae, or young, of various moths and beetles are feeding safely between the leaf’s layers. Etchings in a tree’s bark show where beetles have bored inside to feed on its wood while under cover.
Many insects even alter plants to create places to hide. Some caterpillars roll up leaves and seal them shut with sticky silk. Weaver ants seal leaves together with silk made by their larvae, which the adult ants use as if they were glue sticks. Some insects, including species of aphids, midges, and wasps, spur plants to grow protective cases. These cases, called galls, are hard knobs with spongy interiors. As larvae feed on the plant, their saliva induces the growth of these galls. Larger animals also take advantage of the safe shelter provided by plants, rocks, and other parts of their habitat.
Birds hide their nests amid grasses, tuck them among branches, bury them deep inside burrows, and conceal them in tree holes. Staying hidden for many hours is not necessary for an animal that can get to a hiding place quickly. Many small rodents feed close to their burrows so they can dive into them at the first glimpse of a hawk overhead. Crabs scuttle swiftly beneath stones. The pancake tortoise of East Africa, which has a flat, flexible shell, wedges itself into a crevice between rocks. The turtle braces its legs so that it cannot easily be pulled out of its hiding spot. The chuckwalla, a lizard that lives n the southwestern United Avoiding danger 11 HIDING BY DAY OR NIGHT many species make use of hideaways only when they are inactive. raccoons, for example, are largely nocturnal— they are most active at night. during most daylight hours, they are curled up in a tree cavity, a woodpile, or even an attic, fast asleep. At night, they emerge to look for food. their meals often include other nocturnal animals, such as slugs or mice. As a result of being nocturnal, an animal not only avoids predators that are active by day, but also avoids competing with animals that eat the same food. wo different species that both feed on insects, for example, can use the same resource without competing directly if one is part of the day crew and the other takes the night shift. of course, some predators also are active at night. A nocturnal moth, for example, may be caught by a bat. the bat, in turn, may be caught by an owl. States, also darts into crevices. Then, it inflates its lungs with air so that its body swells up, wedging it in place. A liFe in hiding A variety of species go to the extreme: They spend most of their lives in hiding.
Over millions of years, they have adapted to surviving in habitats that keep them under cover. Many kinds of clams, for example, burrow into sandy or muddy beaches. Some species live just under the surface, while others dig deeply. A large clam called the geoduck can bury itself 3 feet (1 meter) below the surface. By burrowing, a clam protects itself from being washed away by waves, drying out in the sun, and being an easy target for 12 AnimAl deFenses predators. It does not need to leave its hiding place to find food. Instead, the clam opens its paired shells and reaches up through the sand with a body part called a siphon.
The siphon takes in water, which the clam filters to extract particles of food. If the clam senses vibrations rippling through the sand, it quickly pulls in its siphon. Vibrations may mean a predator is investigating its hiding spot. The clam also may burrow more deeply to escape. Some clams can dig quickly: The razor clam can move 9 inches (22 centimeters) in 1 minute. Other animals find safety in living underground, too. Earthworms spend much of the day burrowing through the soil. If caught by a bird’s probing beak, an earthworm struggles to resist being yanked out of the ground.
It grabs onto the walls of its burrow with bristles that line its sides. The worm’s hind end also bulges to help clamp it in place. A mole digging through the earth can send earthworms scuttling out of the soil. Moles eat earthworms and even store them for later, biting them and then stuffing them into holes in their tunnels. A mole rarely needs to poke its head above ground; there, an owl, fox, or weasel might pounce on it. stAying still A prey animal that senses danger does not always seek a hiding place. Some species first try another way of avoiding detection: freezing in place.
Many predators can easily spot prey in motion, but are less likely to notice a still animal, especially if it blends into the background. A moving rabbit out in the open, for example, is an easy target for a hawk. To avoid being spotted, the rabbit crouches low and freezes in place. Its stillness reduces the chances of it being seen, and its low profile makes it look more like a mound of dirt than a round-bodied animal sitting on the ground. Avoiding danger 13 ESCAPE HATCHES Animals dig dwellings underground for many reasons. A den or burrow provides relief from extreme heat or cold. t can serve as a nursery for helpless young. some animals store food in their burrows. A handy burrow also provides a safe spot when a predator appears. prairie dogs, which live on the grasslands of the united states, build extensive communities of burrows called towns. At the sight of a predator, a prairie dog immediately alerts its family and neighbors with shrill barks. in a ? ash, the prairie dogs dive into their burrows and out of sight. their tunnels, which spread far, wide, and deep, provide the animals with many hideouts and escape routes. iggers, such as chipmunks and ground squirrels, also include emergency exits in their homes. that way, there’s an escape route if a badger digs up the burrow or a snake slips into it. African mammals called meerkats have hundreds of tunnels called “bolt holes” in their territory. if a predator appears, they run, or “bolt,” into them. Ground squirrels, like this marmot, create dwellings underground in part to hide quickly from predators. 14 AnimAl deFenses In much the same way, newborn deer lie still among ferns and grasses while their mothers spend time away from them, feeding on leaves.
The fawns, born without any odor that would lure a predator, rely on their stillness as well as their spots to avoid detection on the sun-dappled woodland floor. Pronghorn antelope fawns remain still for hours on end, lying in tall grass to escape the notice of coyotes and eagles. The chicks of spotted sandpipers and many other birds also crouch and freeze when danger threatens. Though many crouch-and-freeze creatures also benefit from coloration that helps them blend in with their background, such camouflage is not a requirement for “the freeze” to work.
A squirrel, for example, is usually a highly visible animal as it busily dashes along branches or springs across a lawn. Should a dog or other animal threaten it, however, the squirrel scrambles up a tree trunk, circles to the side of the trunk opposite the predator, and freezes. If the predator follows it, the squirrel scurries to the other side of the trunk and freezes again. Using this spiraling method, the squirrel keeps a blockade between it and its attacker—even if the attacker is incapable of climbing the tree in pursuit. hiding in plAin sight
Camouflage, also known as cryptic coloration, is the one-sizefits-all defense in the world of animals. Animals as small as insects and as large as the boldly patterned giraffe—towering at a height of 18 feet (6 m)—depend on their cryptic colorations to help them blend in. Colors and patterns may camouflage an animal not only by helping it blend in, but also by breaking up its shape. That way, a predator does not recognize it at first. An animal’s coloring can Avoiding danger 15 Walkingsticks are insects that look like twigs. They are able to blend in with trees to avoid predators. ide the roundness of its body, making it look flat. Colors and patterns also can help hide an animal’s shadow. Cryptic coloration can be as simple as the sandy fur of a fennec fox, which blends with the tones of its desert home. It can be as complex as the camouflage of a giant swallowtail caterpillar, which looks like a bird dropping on a leaf. The fox “hides in plain sight,” while the caterpillar stays safe by resembling something that does not interest a predator one bit. Many cryptically colored animals just need to freeze or lie low to be protected. A pointy thorn bug sitting on a stem, for example, looks like a thorn.
A grasshopper or katydid that 16 AnimAl deFenses resembles a leaf just needs to sit on a leafy twig to blend in and look like a leaf. Some animals go one step further and behave in ways that enhance their camouflage. Walkingsticks are part of this cast of animal actors. These long, thin insects naturally resemble twigs, complete with sharply bent limbs and bumpy joints. They are closely related to the fantastically shaped leaf insects, which have body parts shaped and colored to look like leaves—right down to leaf veins, nibbled edges, and brown spots of decay.
But walkingsticks don’t just look like sticks, and leaf insects don’t just look like leaves. They act like them, too. While sitting still they sway slowly, mimicking the motion of a twig or leaf in the breeze. Leaf insects have been known to dangle from a stem by one leg, as if they were leaves about to drop. If threatened, many leaf insects will fall to the ground, landing on their feet and scuttling away. Other insects imitate plant galls, seeds, and flowers. The African flower mantis takes on the coloring of the flower on which it lives. This is also true of the Malaysian orchid mantis, which has legs that look like flower petals.
The camouflage patterns on many moths’ wings imitate patterns of tree bark and the lichen growing on it. Moths instinctively use this camouflage to their advantage. The pine hawk-moth perches on a tree with its head pointing up. This lines up the stripes on its wings with the bark’s furrows. The waved umber moth perches sideways on trees. That’s because its stripes run across its wings. The sideways perch lines up these stripes with the bark’s pattern. Among the insects, caterpillars excel at combining cryptic coloration with deceptive behavior. A caterpillar’s job is to eat and grow while avoiding being eaten by birds.
A caterpillar must also avoid tiny wasps eager to lay their eggs on it. The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on the caterpillar. Avoiding danger 1 A Costa Rican rainforest species of moth caterpillar called Navarcostes limnatis looks like a diseased leaf covered with fungus. It adds a rocking motion to this disguise so that it appears to be quivering in a breeze. Another caterpillar, the larva of a butterfly called the meander leafwing, crawls to the tip of a leaf after hatching. It eats the parts of the leaf that stick out on either side of the sturdy rib running down the leaf’s iddle. Then it sits on the rib so that it looks like a bit of nibbled leaf itself. The caterpillar will continue to eat the leaf over the next few days. It binds scraps of leaf to the rib with silk secreted by its body and hides among them. Insects are stars when it comes to combining camouflage with a convincing performance, but other animals also use this tactic. The leafy sea dragon of Australian waters is one example. It has frills that make it look like a bit of drifting seaweed. The sea dragon also rocks slowly and rhythmically, mirroring the swaying of seaweed in its habitat.
Half a world away, the leaf fish of South America’s Amazon River floats slowly on its side, its flattened, brown body resembling a dead leaf drifting in the water. Its snout looks like the leaf’s stalk. This behavior allows the fish to avoid predators and hunt its own prey without being noticed. Many tree frogs also imitate leaves or other plant parts. The red-eyed tree frog, for example, snuggles into the curve of a leaf during the day. Its bright green body blends with the leaf. The frog tucks its legs and big orange feet close to its blueand-yellow sides so that the vivid colors are hidden.
Finally, it closes its bulging red eyes, hiding them under gold-flecked lids. The frog can see through these lids to watch for danger as it naps. Even some larger animals manage to pull off the trick of resembling an object. The potoo, a nocturnal bird of Central and South America, spends the day perched on a dead branch. Its feathers, mottled with brown and gray, work as camouflage. 18 AnimAl deFenses The potoo holds its body at an angle that makes it look like just another dead branch. On the other side of the globe, a look-alike nocturnal bird called the tawny frogmouth poses the same way.
Another bird actor is the American bittern, which lives in wetlands. When it is startled, it stretches its long, thin neck and body and points its sharp bill to the sky. In this position, the streaks of brown running down its breast blend in with the tall, grassy plants around it. The bittern also sways gently, just like the breeze-ruffled reeds. chAnging color Sometimes, an animal’s camouflage won’t work if the habitat changes or an animal travels to another part of its habitat. A number of animals solve this problem by changing color. Some animals change color as the seasons change.
The willow ptarmigan, an Arctic bird, is mottled brown in summer and blends in with the ground, rocks, and plants. In winter, it is white with a black tail and nearly disappears against a background of snow and occasional twigs. In spring and fall, as it molts (sheds) old feathers and grows new ones, the bird is a mixture of brown and white—just like the patchy snow-spotted world around it. Some animals change color within weeks or days. Many caterpillars change color as they grow, shedding a skin of one color to reveal another that can protect them better as they move about more to feed.
Crab spiders can change color in just a few days to match the flowers in which they lurk. Bark bugs of Central America grow darker when moistened with water. This helps them blend in with rain-darkened tree trunks. Some reptiles, fish, and other creatures can change color in just a few hours. Many tree frogs, for example, can go from green to brown. Horned lizards of the southwestern United States can Avoiding danger 19 The feathers of the willow ptarmigan change color with the seasons: white in winter months to blend with snow and brown or mixed colors in other months to blend with plants and the earth.
This enables the bird to often be naturally camou? aged from predators. change their brown and gray tones to best fit their surroundings. The flounder, a flat-bodied fish with its eyes on the side of its head, lies on the ocean floor and takes on the color and texture of the sandy, stony surface in as little as two hours. Other animals work even faster. Many octopuses, cuttlefish, and squids can change color in less than one second. An octopus can change from solid red to multiple colors, or even white, to match its background. It can also change the texture of its skin to resemble sand or stones.
A cuttlefish can make light and dark waves ripple down its back, reflecting the way sunlight shimmers in water. 20 AnimAl deFenses mAsking: AnimAls in disguise Some species push the defense tactics of hiding and camouflage to the max by actually wearing costumes. This behavior is known as masking. The decorator crab, found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, is named for its habit of disguising itself. The crab picks seaweed, anemones, and sponges and puts them on its shell. Bristles on the shell work like Velcro to hold these items in place. In this disguise, the crab looks like another weed-covered rock.
When the crab outgrows its shell and sheds it during molting, it takes the decorations off its old shell and plants them on its new one. Decorator crabs share the eastern Pacific with sharp-nosed crabs, which sometimes stick seaweed on the sharp front edges of their shells. Other species of crab disguise themselves, too. The camouflage crab of New Zealand adorns its shell and legs with seaweed (and sometimes snacks on bits of it). The sponge crab uses its hind legs to hold a live sponge on its shell. The shell is covered with algae, which has settled on the shell just as it would on a stone.
Hermit crabs sometimes plant anemones on their shells. Anemones have stinging cells in their tentacles, so they provide an extra layer of protection for the crab. In return, the crab takes them to new feeding grounds, and the anemones can dine on tidbits from the crab’s meals. Another species, the anemone crab, has claws equipped with hooks for gripping anemones. Any predator that approaches this crab will have the stinging anemones waved in its face. Some insects also use masking. A wavy-lined emerald caterpillar cuts petals from the flowers it feeds on.
Then it attaches the petals to spines on its body and fastens them in place with silk. When the petals wilt, it replaces them. This habit has earned the caterpillar the alternative name of camouflaged looper. Other Avoiding danger 21 kinds of looper caterpillars mask themselves with flowers, leaves, and bits of bark. The larvae of many kinds of caddis fly mask themselves in camouflaged cases. The cases are made out of material from the larva’s freshwater habitat: grains of sand, small stones and shells, leaves, twigs, bits of wood, or pine needles.
The materials are bound together with sticky or silky fluids produced by the larva’s body. A hooked pair of legs at the larva’s hind end hang on to the case as the larva creeps about in search of food. Hiding, camouflage, and masking help animals avoid predators. Animals’ behaviors and bodies have changed over millions of years in ways that help them survive. Scientists call these changes adaptations. The process of change over time is called evolution. Predators have also evolved so that they could keep finding prey. When they do, the prey must turn to another form of self-defense. 2 Escape Artists iding, stAnding still, and camouflage help many animals avoid predators, but these defenses do not work all the time. Predators may find hiding places, stumble over prey lying stockstill, or discover that a leaf is actually an insect in disguise. Prey animals need a second line of defense. For many animals, this defense is escape. Escape often means fleeing as quickly as possible. Escape also may involve behaviors that buy an animal a few extra seconds to get away. This could be startling a predator or distracting it. Some animals go so far as to actually lose body parts to aid in their escape.
A few appear to give up by playing dead. Fleeing An animal without a burrow or other hiding place can choose between fight and flight. It can stand its ground and face a predator or make a quick getaway. Fighting may be used as a last resort; fleeing is the first response to danger. Many long-legged, hoofed animals literally run for their lives, relying on sheer speed to escape. Horses, for example, can gallop at speeds of 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour or more. 22 escape Artists 23 Deer race away just as quickly. The pronghorn of western North American grasslands can run about 50 miles (80 km) per hour.
This burst of speed may enable an animal to leave its pursuer in the dust. If the predator persists, however, many hoofed animals can run fast for several miles. A pronghorn can run at 35 miles (56 km) per hour for about 4 miles (6 km). Running works well for speedy four-legged animals. It also serves some two-legged ones. The ostrich, the world’s largest bird at 8 feet tall (2. 4 m), cannot fly. Other than lions and jackals, few animals prey on it. If pursued, an ostrich can outrun and outlast most predators. It can cruise at speeds up to 40 miles (64 km) an hour and run at a slightly slower speed for 20 minutes or
When ? eeing a predator, the basilisk lizard musters up enough energy to be able to run on water. 24 AnimAl deFenses more. The rhea, a flightless bird of South America, can also run swiftly and turn on a dime. Roadrunners of the southwestern United States deserts can fly, but prefer to run. They can zip along at 18. 6 miles (30 km) an hour. The basilisk lizard normally gets around on four legs, but switches to two when it’s threatened. The lizard lives in trees in rainforests of Central America. When a predator creeps up on it, the basilisk drops out of the tree and lands in the water.
Then, it rises on its hind legs and runs across the surface of the water. The basilisk dashes about 15 feet (4. 5 m) in three seconds flat before dropping forward to swim with all four legs. A kangaroo cannot run, but it can leap away from danger. A red kangaroo can hop at 20 miles (32 km) an hour for long distances, and 30 miles (48 km) an hour for a short distance. Some people have clocked red kangaroos going even faster. Grasshoppers and crickets leap to safety, too. Beach hoppers, which are related to pill bugs, pop into the air by snapping their abdomens and pushing with four of their hind legs.
Swimming, slithering, climbing, and flying from danger all work just as well as running and jumping. An octopus, for example, escapes predators by filling its body with water, then pushing the water out through a tube-like body part called a siphon. This motion, called jetting, lets an octopus scoot away quickly in any direction. As it jets away, it emits a cloud of ink to hide its escape and further confuse its pursuer. Shellfish called scallops also jet away from danger. When a scallop senses that a sea star is near, it opens and shuts its shell, forcing out jets of water that scoot it away.
Another ocean creature, the flying fish, escapes predators by swimming quickly just under the water’s surface, then streaking up and out of the water while stretching out a pair of wing-like fins. It sails through the air for up to 20 seconds before diving back into the water. escape Artists 25 Some animals roll away from danger. Wheel spiders, which live in Africa’s Namib Desert, start their escape from predatory wasps by running. Then, they suddenly fold their legs and flip sideways to roll down sand dunes like wheels. They can roll at a speed of about 3 feet (1 m) per second.
The caterpillar of the mother-of-pearl moth also goes for a spin to escape by curling into a circle and then pushing off. A species of mantis shrimp, found along some Pacific shores, rolls up and pushes itself along in a series of backward somersaults. Many predators, however, also have speed on their side. Their prey must often use other tactics besides pure speed to make their escape. One way to make a pursuer work harder is to zigzag. A rabbit running from a coyote, for example, does not run endlessly in a straight line. Instead, it dodges back and forth, forcing the coyote to change direction and make sharp turns, too.
Zigzagging is easier for a rabbit, which is small, than for the larger coyote. The coyote also cannot tell when the rabbit will dodge this way or that, so it cannot plan its next move. In this way, the rabbit makes the chase more difficult and tiring for the coyote. Though a coyote may still succeed in catching its prey, there is a chance that it may tire out, give up, and go look for an easier meal. Other animals also dart and dash when chased. A herd of impala, slender antelopes of African grasslands, not only run from a predator but also zigzag in all directions.
Impala also leap over each other as they run, sometimes springing as high as 10 feet (3 m) into the air. This explosion of activity startles and confuses a predator. It also makes it difficult for a predator to chase any one animal. Zigzagging mixed with freezing can confuse predators, too. Frogs and grasshoppers will jump in one direction, then freeze, only to pop off in another direction if the predator comes near. A predator may not be able to focus on its prey with all the 26 AnimAl deFenses unexpected starts and stops. Likewise, a cottontail rabbit may go from zigzagging to freezing as it flees.
When it runs, it flashes its puffy white tail like a target. When it freezes, it sits on its tail. The predator may lose track of the rabbit because the tail has vanished. stArtling A predAtor Anyone who has jumped when startled knows how a predator might feel when its prey suddenly bursts into motion after being nearly invisible. The shock of the prey’s sudden reappearance is ELUDING BATS Bats hunt on the wing at night. they send out pulses of sound and listen for the echoes to locate their prey. this process is called echolocation. using it, a bat can pinpoint even tiny insects in ? ight. nsects have developed escape behaviors to avoid echolocation. some moths can hear the high-pitched sounds that bats send out. A moth may ? y in loops to avoid being detected. if a moth senses that a bat is close, it will simply fold its wings and drop from the sky. some moths go one step further and jam the bat’s signals. A moth does this by making sounds that are similar to the echoes that the bat is trying to hear. this can throw the bat off course just long enough to help the moth escape. scientists have recently discovered that some moths make sounds that warn bats not to eat them because they taste bad.
Bats quickly learn to avoid these moths after a few taste tests. some species of moth that do not taste bad imitate the sounds of the foul-tasting ones, which tricks the bats into steering clear of them, too. escape Artists 2 enough to make a predator flinch or pause for a fraction of a second. That little bit of extra time can let an animal escape with its life. A variety of animals even sport special colors or body parts to help them startle predators. These colors and parts are used in behaviors called startle displays. A startle display may be used to fend off an attack right from the start.
Many startle displays of this type involve suddenly flashing a vivid color or pattern. This is the tactic used by the io moth, which lives in North America. At rest, an io moth is pale yellow or brown. But if a bird attempts to grab it, the io moth quickly moves its forewings. This reveals two hind wings boldly colored with a pair of big black spots surrounded by a circle of yellow. These spots look like eyes, and are called eyespots. To a bird, the display of eyespots may look like the sudden appearance of a larger bird, such as an owl— its own predator.
The startled bird may fly away rather than risk its life, or it may pause long enough for the moth to escape. Eyespots are found on the wings of hundreds of species of moths and butterflies. They are also seen on many caterpillars. A swallowtail butterfly’s plump green body has two huge yellow eyespots on its humped front end. This makes it look like a snake. When threatened, the vine hawk moth’s brown caterpillar curls into a “C” and bulges its yellow eyespots. A Malaysian hawk moth caterpillar puffs up its front end when threatened. This makes its eyespots open wide.
It also snaps its head back and forth as if it were a snake about to strike. Other insects flash startling eyespots, too. The African flower mantis, which usually blends in with the shapes and colors of its flowery habitat, flares out wings with eyespots when it is threatened. The eyed click beetle has two black eyespots behind its head. An Australian moth caterpillar has eyespots that are normally hidden in the folds of its body. When it flexes its hind end, the folds open like lids to reveal the “eyes. ” 28 AnimAl deFenses Patches of color that do not look like eyes also make effective startle displays.
These colors are often hidden until an animal flees. The sudden appearance of this ? ash coloration can stop a predator in its tracks just long enough to let the prey escape. A red-eyed tree frog, for example, usually blends in with the leaf on which it sleeps. If a predator bothers it, the frog first pops open its enormous red eyes. Then it leaps away, turning from a plain green frog into a rainbow of color as its orange-footed legs unfold and its blue and yellow sides appear. This sudden splash of color startles the predator and buys the frog time to get away. Octopuses also abruptly give up on camouflage when they are under attack.
An alarmed octopus can burst into startling colors or patterns in less than a second. A fish or turtle that sees A ? ash of the red-eyed tree frog’s large red eyes can surprise predators, and give it time to escape. Escape Artists 29 BLUFFING Startle displays are often part of a behavior called bluf? ng. Bluf? ng is a tactic used by animals to make them “look tough” to a predator. An animal that may be completely harmless acts as if it is actually quite ferocious and possibly dangerous. A predator may back off rather than risk getting injured. Many lizards combine a startle display with a bluff.
A chameleon facing a predator, for example, may suddenly turn dark as it puffs up its body to look larger. It also hisses, often revealing a brightly colored mouth. The frilled lizard of Australia confronts predators with a wide-open yellow or pink mouth. It adds to this display by opening huge ? aps of skin on its neck, which are splotched with red, orange, black, and white. The big frills make the lizard look much larger and more intimidating. Another Australian lizard, the bearded dragon, likewise gapes its yellow-lined mouth and raises a beard of spiky skin under its chin. The beard also turns blue-black. ts intended meal suddenly turn black or zebra-striped is often scared away. Many kinds of stick insects, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, and other insects also flash bright colors when fleeing a predator. The colors disappear when they leap or fly to a new spot and fold their wings. They then blend in with their surroundings as they sit perfectly still. Sometimes just a spot of color can do the trick. The shingleback skink of Australia is a stumpy, short-legged lizard. Its earth-tone colors usually hide it. However, the skink startles potential predators by suddenly opening its mouth and sticking out its thick, blue tongue.
It also huffs and puffs, hissing like a 30 AnimAl deFenses snake. Another Australian lizard that uses this startle display is the blue-tongued skink, named for its turquoise tongue. An Australian legless lizard called the excitable delma does not have startling colors, but it still spooks predators with its behavior. If bothered, this animal twists and turns its body violently as it slithers away. This odd behavior may startle and confuse a predator. deFlecting An AttAck Startle displays and bluffs can help an animal escape in the nick of time.
Another tactic is to trick a predator into attacking the “wrong” part of its prey or misjudging which direction the prey will go as it tries to escape. An animal can live to see another day if it can keep its head and body safe by getting a predator to merely nip its tail instead. Colors, markings, and behaviors that encourage a predator to focus on the wrong end of its prey are called de? ection displays because they redirect, or deflect, an attack. Deflection displays often make use of eyespots. Unlike eyespots that are flashed to scare a predator, these eyespots show on an animal’s hind end at all times.
They draw a predator’s attention away from the prey’s head. As a predator lunges, it focuses on the prominent eyespot at the prey’s tail end instead of on the prey’s head. The prey’s actual eyes may be hidden among stripes or spots. Eyespots like these are common among fish, especially coral-reef species such as butterfly fish. The four-eyed butterfly fish, for example, has false eyes near its tail that look just like its real eyes. The threadfin butterfly fish has a dark spot on a fin toward its rear. A dark stripe on its head runs through its actual eye, which make it less noticeable.
Angled stripes on its sides also guide a predator’s eye toward its tail. If attacked, each fish may lose a bit of its tail, but escape with its life. Escape Artists 31 A juvenile emperor angel? sh has an eyespot near its tail, which makes a predator focus on the wrong end. Juvenile emperor angelfish, another coral-reef species, are covered with loops of white and light blue on a dark background. These loops swirl around a large eyespot near the angelfish’s tail, while its actual eyes disappear among the stripes on its head. A predator’s gaze is naturally pulled to the wrong end.
Insects also use eyespots in their deflection displays. These eyespots are always visible, not like the eyespots used to startle predators. They are also smaller and closer to the wings’ edges. Many species of butterfl ies sport such eyespots on their hind wings. A bird that snaps at the wrong end of such a butterfly leaves notches in the wings but loses out on a meal. Some 32 AnimAl deFenses butterfl ies have hind wings tipped with fake legs and antennae. Scientists have noticed that some of these butterfl ies will even creep backward along a stem for a second or two after landing, which might help fool a nearby predator.
One butterfly found in Malaysia has such a convincing “head” on its hind end that it is sometimes called the back-to-front butterfly. Other insects rely on false heads to dodge predators, too. A lanternfly of Southeast Asia has antennae lookalikes dangling from the ends of its wings near a pair of eyespots. When the wings are folded, the lanternfly’s tail looks like a head. The insect even walks backward when it senses danger. Some lanternflies turn this trick around and have heads that look like tails. The giant desert centipede of the southwestern United States is not an insect, but it uses the false-head trick, too.
Its tail end looks just like its head, right down to antennae-like attachments. If a predator grabs the centipede’s hind end because it mistakes it for the head, the centipede can twist around and bite it. The shingleback skink, a lizard of Australia, also uses this tactic. Its stumpy head and tail look nearly identical. A predator that grabs the wrong “head” will be surprised to see the skink scurry off in the opposite direction. Many snakes also use the two-headed trick. They roll up in a ball and hide their heads in their coils when under attack. Then they wave their tails to threaten the predator and deflect its attack.
These snakes sometimes have bright colors on their tails that enhance this trick. Southeast Asian snakes called kraits, for example, wave red tails. The ring-necked snake of North America coils its tail to display the bright orange-red underside. The color and coiling can distract a predator. In Africa, the shovel-snouted snake coils its tail, too. Other kinds of snakes even jab their tails at their attackers as if they were going to bite them. Escape Artists 33 Tail markings are common among animals, and some scientists are taking a second look at them to see which ones may be used as deflection displays.
The black tip on a weasel’s tail, for example, may help trick a hawk into trying to grab the skinny tail instead of the body or head. LOSING LIMBS AND TAILS Some animals whose tails are grabbed have a surprise in store for their attackers. Shockingly, their tails break off while their owners escape. Many North American species of skinks, for example, have bright blue tails when they are young. A skink’s blue tail works as a deflection display to protect its head. But if a predator actually seizes the tail, it breaks off. The skink runs away, leaving its tail wriggling and squirming behind it. The predator gets nothing but a bony mouthful.
The skink’s tail later grows back. The broken-tail trick is used by many kinds of lizards, even ones that do not have brightly colored tails. Geckos, anoles, and iguanas all can shed their tails. This is also true of some legless lizards, which are called “glass snakes” because of the way their tails shatter when they break. The predator doesn’t break these lizards’ tails: The lizards do it themselves. The movement of muscles in the tail causes one of the tailbones to snap in half. Some rodents can also shed part of their tails. Spiny rats, which live in parts of South and Central America, have tails that break off.
Gerbils and some species of rats and mice lose the outer layer of skin and fur on their tails. The spiny rats are left with stumps, but rodents that shed their tails’ covering lose the rest of the tail later. Unlike lizards, rodents do not grow back the missing parts. Tails are not the only body parts shed by animals. Some animals dispose of their limbs instead. Some species of octopus 34 AnimAl deFenses can release some of their arms if they are attacked. The wriggling arms distract the predator and let the prey escape. Large tropical centipedes also toss off legs if they feel threatened.
The lost legs writhe and even make squeaky noises to distract predators. Octopuses grow new limbs. Centipedes don’t, but they have so many legs that the loss of a few doesn’t harm them. A crab also can drop a claw or leg if attacked. Some species pinch their attackers first and then release the pinched claw. The crab runs away while the predator frantically tries to remove the painful claw. Lobsters also release their claws in this way. Crabs and lobsters replace the claws over time as they molt and grow new outer coverings called exoskeletons. Insects and spiders, such as the daddy longlegs, have legs that are easily pulled off by predators.
They do not grow new legs, but get around just fine with the remaining ones. Some geckos save their skins by losing them. These geckos are covered with an outer layer of skin that is only loosely connected to the skin underneath. The outer layer slips off if a predator grabs them. The gecko scurries away as if it had simply popped out of a sleeping bag. Birds cannot shed their skins, but they can lose feathers. Normally, a bird’s feathers cannot easily be pulled out. However, a predator that grabs a bird’s tail is often left with a mouthful of feathers. This feather loss is called fright molting.
Some scientists think it may help a bird wriggle out of the clutches of an owl or other predator, just as a butterfly sheds wing scales as it struggles to escape a spider’s web. They also think that a bird can fright molt in midair, leaving a burst of feathers behind it that might deflect a hawk’s attack. Though many animals lose parts of their outsides to defend themselves, some species of sea cucumbers lose their insides instead. These plump, slippery ocean animals usually are protected escape Artists 35 by sticky mucus covering their bodies. If a sea cucumber is attacked, it expels its internal organs from its hind end.
The sticky guts can trap a crab or startle a bigger predator. Then the sea cucumber creeps away while its attacker either struggles with the messy organs or eats them. Within a few weeks, the sea cucumber grows new organs. plAying deAd A variety of animals escape death by playing dead. This defense is called death feigning. Animals that play dead may seem as if they are offering themselves up on a platter. Yet, many predators hunt prey in response to movement. Many animals also do not eat prey that they have not killed. By playing dead, an animal may make its attacker lose interest.
A predator may also get careless if its prey seems to be dead. It may relax its grip and give the prey a chance to escape. Many insects are known to feign death. These insect actors include many species of beetles, grasshoppers, stick insects, and caterpillars. Some insects curl up and remain still. Others let go of branches and drop to the ground. Certain reptiles, such as chameleons and many tree snakes, also drop to the ground and lie still. Many birds also go limp when caught by a predator, and then instantly “come back to life” at the fi rst chance for escape. Baby ospreys play dead in the nest when their mother gives a warning call.
Going limp and lying still works well for many animals, but a few species deserve Academy Awards for their death-feigning skills. Among these “best actors” are the opossum and the hognose snake, both found in North America. An opossum defends itself at first by growling, hissing, and showing its teeth. If this does not frighten away the dog or other 36 AnimAl deFenses The opossum keeps predators away by curling up and playing dead. This pretend act is the reason for the phrase “playing possum,” which means to fake being dead. escape Artists 3 SEA SLUGS VERSUS SPINY LOBSTER ctopuses, squids, and cuttle? sh squirt ink as they escape. scientists assumed this was a defense behavior. now, because of a recent discovery in sea slugs, researchers are taking a closer look at the ink. certain species of sea slugs also produce inky clouds. the ink was known to taste bad. now, however, scientists know that the ink changes the behavior of a predator called the spiny lobster. chemicals in the ink seem to muddle the lobster’s actions. An “inked” lobster gives up its attack on a slug. it may groom itself and begin digging and grabbing at the sand with its claws, as if it were feeding. erhaps other animals’ ink also affects their predators in ways yet to be discovered. animal that is threatening it, the opossum “drops dead. ” It rolls onto its side, rounds its back, and goes limp. Its tongue lolls from its open mouth. Its eyes close halfway—just enough to let it keep track of its predator. An opossum will keep playing dead even if the predator bites it. It does not revive until the predator goes away and the coast is clear again. Hognose snakes also use other defenses before resorting to playing dead. A frightened hognose snake will first raise its head, spread its neck wide, and hiss.
Then, it will produce a bad smell. If this act fails, the snake flips onto its back and lies still. Like the opossum, it opens its mouth and lets its tongue hang out. If it is picked up and placed on its belly, it will keep flipping onto its back and playing dead. 3 Animal Armor A giAnt reptile lumbers through a patch of low-growing plants. It swings its head to the side to snatch a mouthful of leaves. The head is covered with flat, bony plates. Sharp triangles stick out from the sides like horns. Spikes also run down the sides of its broad, domed back, which is shingled with bony plates.
This spiky, armored reptile is an ankylosaurus, a dinosaur that lived about 70 million years ago. It was one of the most heavily armored of all dinosaurs. The bony plates in its skin were welded to its skeleton in some places. Even its eyelids contained pads of bone. Few meat-eating dinosaurs could take on this armored dinosaur, which was as long as a school bus and as heavy as a tank. If a predator did try to sink its teeth into an ankylosaurus’s armored back, the reptile had one more defense. It swung its huge tail at its enemy—a tail that ended in a massive club of fused bone.
Armor was a primary form of defense for prehistoric animals. Today, many animals still use it. Sharp spikes and spines, tough bony plates, shells, and thick skin help protect animals from the teeth, jaws, and claws of predators. 38 Animal Armor 39 spikes And spines Most insects have thick outer skeletons that serve as armor. These exoskeletons may also boast spikes and spines, which add to an insect’s defense. Many species of crickets and grasshoppers, for example, have spines on their legs and backs. Many ants have spines in the middle of their back that protect them from other insects’ nipping jaws.
Praying mantises have spurs on their claws that not only help in grabbing prey, but also inflict wounds on predators. Caterpillars typically have soft bodies. This makes them tempting morsels for predators. But most caterpillars have other ways to protect themselves. Some have spikes or spiny, hair-like A caterpillar’s bristles, like those of this gypsy moth caterpillar, can be used as a defense against predators. 40 AnimAl deFenses bristles. Caterpillars can be so bristly that they appear to have fur. The bristles irritate a predator’s skin and eyes. If a predator accidentally inhales some bristles, they can hurt its nose, throat, and lungs.
Other small animals have spines, spikes, and bristles, too. The spined spider has an array of big, red spines on its body. Millipedes have bundles of barbed bristles along their bodies and on their hind ends. These bristles come off and get stuck in the faces and jaws of ants and other predators. Large spiders called tarantulas also defend themselves with bristles. A tarantula uses two of its hind legs to rub bristles off its abdomen, which sends hundreds of the tiny barbed bristles at the attacker. The bristles irritate its eyes, nose, and mouth. Spikes and spines also protect animals that live underwater.
The tiny young, or larvae, of crabs have spines that help them float while also repelling fish. Likewise, spiny lobsters are protected by spines that line their antennae and point forward along their shells. The crown-of-thorns sea star is also spiny. This sea star has as many as 19 arms, with sturdy pink or yellow spines poking out of its orange, red, and purple skin. The spines not only pierce skin, but also deliver a dose of painful venom. Sea urchins are like living pincushions. Their hard, round bodies bristle with spines. An urchin uses its spines to help it move. The sharp spines also keep many predators at bay.
Some sea urchins’ spines are connected to glands that make venom. Long-spined hatpin urchins have venomous spines that can be up to 12 inches (30 cm) long. Some species of fish and jellyfish hide in hatpin urchins. Stonefish have spines connected to venom glands, too. These are well-camouflaged fish that lie on the seabed in some tropical waters. Their spines pierce and kill predators that grab them. Surgeonfish, which also live in tropical waters, have a pair of Animal Armor 41 Sea urchins, like this common sea urchin found along the coast of Scotland, use their bristles for moving as well as defense. azor-like spines on either side of the tail. The fish slashes at attackers with these spines. Sticklebacks are named for the spines that stick up on their backs. A stickleback can lock these spines in an upright position. The number of spines varies, as shown by their names, which range from three- to fifteen-spined stickleback. The porcupine fish’s name is likewise a clue to its defense. This fish is covered with sharp spines. When threatened, the fish inflates its body with water, and the spines stick out in all directions. This makes the fish too big for some predators to 42 AnimAl deFenses wallow. It startles other predators, which may decide not to tackle the suddenly enlarged prey. A variety of lizards also wear spike-studded armor. The well-named thorny devil resembles a miniature dragon as it strolls across the Australian sand, looking for ants to eat. Spikes of many sizes jut from its legs, sides, tail, back, and head. Despite its name, a thorny lizard is not aggressive. If threatened, it tucks its head between its front legs. This makes a large, spiky bump on its neck stick out—a bump that looks like an even more unappetizing head than the lizard’s actual one.
Just as prickly are the horned lizards of dry lands and deserts in parts of Mexico and the southwestern United States. A This thorny devil shows off its spikes of many sizes as it walks along a street in the Northern Territory, Australia. Animal Armor 43 horned lizard has spines running down its sides, back, and tail. Strong, sharp horns jut from its head, making it look like a tiny triceratops. If a predator threatens it, a horned lizard puffs up its body so that its spines stick out. It also turns its head to present its horns. Some species can also squirt blood from the corners of their eyes.
The blood can shoot out up to 3 feet (1 m). The blood tastes bad, so the squirt both surprises and disgusts a predator. The armadillo lizard of southern Africa is also spiky. It makes the most of its spikes by rolling into a ball and grabbing its tail in its mouth when threatened. This turns the lizard into a prickly doughnut. Mammals also make use of spines for protection. Porcupines, for example, fend off predators with spines called quills. There are about 25 species of porcupine. About half of them are found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The rest are found in Central and South America, with one species living in North America.
A North American porcupine is covered with about 30,000 long, sharp quills. The quills range from half an inch (1. 3 cm) to 5 inches (12. 7 cm) long. A porcupine warns enemies before they attack. It lowers its head, lifts its tail, and raises its quills and rattles them. It also clacks its teeth, stamps its feet, and gives off a very strong smell from a patch of skin on its back. If the attacker persists, the porcupine will back up toward it and whack it with its tail. The quills, which are barbed at the end, pop off the porcupine and stick in the attacker’s skin.
They are painful and can actually drill deeper into skin and muscles over time. The African crested porcupine also warns predators not to mess with it. It shakes its tail, making a loud rattling noise with a clump of special, hollow quills. This porcupine also raises quills on its back that can be up to 20 inches (50 cm) long and are boldly striped in black and white. As a last resort, it will run sideways or backward to jab its quills into its foe. 44 AnimAl deFenses A young lion tries to ? ip over an African crested porcupine in order to kill it in South Africa, where porcupines are the principal diet of Kalahari lions.
Hedgehogs are also prickly. A European hedgehog has about 5,000 short, sharp spines. Unlike a porcupine’s quills, hedgehog spines do not come out of the skin when used for jabbing. A hedgehog usually flees or hides in the face of danger. If it is cornered, it raises its spines and then rolls into a ball, protecting its soft belly and its head. A hedgehog can stay rolled up for many hours, and a predator is likely to give up prodding the unresponsive, prickly ball. An uncurled hedgehog, however, may leap backward into a predator or thrust its spiny body into its face. Spines also protect spiny anteaters called echidnas.
Echidnas are Australian monotremes (egg-laying mammals) that eat Animal Armor 45 insects, snaring them with their long, sticky tongues. Hundreds of spines cover an echidna’s body. A spine can be about 2 inches (60 mm) long. If threatened, an echidna digs quickly into the ground, leaving only its spiny back showing. It can also roll up into a ball or wedge itself into a crevice among rocks. ARMORED ON THE INSIDE some animals have spikes that come into play only when they are attacked. Among these unusual animals is a mammal called the potto. the potto is a slow-moving, tree-dwelling African animal. hree bones in its neck end in thick spines that stick up through the skin. the spines usually are buried in its thick fur. however, if threatened, a potto curls up so that its neck bends and the spines stick up. some scientists have recently found that the spines are sensitive to touch and that pottos sometimes rub necks with each other. they are researching to see if pottos use their spines to communicate with one another. A salamander called the sharp-ribbed newt also has hidden spines. its spines are the ends of its ribs. if attacked, the newt pushes its ribs so that they form rows of bumps on its back. here are poison glands on the bumps. the sharp rib tips may also poke out of the newt’s skin. the hero shrew of west Africa does not show its strength; its armor is completely hidden inside. this armor is its oneof-a-kind backbone. each bone in its spine has ridges on it and ? ts snugly into the bones on either side of it. the spine is also very ? exible, and the ribs attached to it are very thick. A person weighing 160 pounds (2 kilograms) can stand on the shrew’s back without harming it. why the shrew’s back is so strong is still a mystery, though its strength may certainly stop some predators’ jaws from crushing it. 6 AnimAl deFenses The army of spiny mammals includes the spiny rats of Central and South America. Some species of spiny rats have sturdy spines, while others have stiff, bristly hair. Spiny rats can also shed their tails to escape a predator’s grip. Another group of spiny mammals, the tenrecs, is found on Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa. A tenrec can roll up into a ball like a hedgehog. It also has a powerful bite and will butt its enemy in the neck with its spiny head. shells A sturdy shell is the primary defense for a variety of very slowmoving animals, such as turtles, tortoises, snails, and clams.
Turtles and tortoises are reptiles with bodies enclosed in shells. Turtles spend much or all of their lives in water, while tortoises live on land. Both have shells made of two parts: an upper section called the carapace and a lower section called the plastron. The shell is basically a sturdy box made of bone. The inside of the carapace is made of bones fused together. These bones include the turtle’s spine and ribs. The plastron is made of bone, too. In most species, the outside of the carapace is covered with plates made of a tough material called keratin—the same substance that forms hooves and fingernails.
These plates are called scutes. Some turtles have just a few scutes embedded in a thick skin on the carapace. Some have none at all. Many turtles can pull their heads, tails, and legs partly or fully into their shells. Box turtles have hinged plastrons, so they can close the openings in their shells. Desert tortoises fold their thick, scaly legs in front of their withdrawn heads to form a shield. A turtle can stay inside its shell for hours, waiting for a predator to give up. It will stay tucked in while a predator sniffs it or rolls it around. Animal Armor 4
For slow-moving animals like the snail, a shell is a primary defense. This snail is resting on a leaf, but it can quickly disappear inside its shell if it senses a threat. Snails, clams, mussels, and other mollusks also are protected by shells. The soft, boneless body of a mollusk is covered with a kind of skin called a mantle. In the mantle are glands that produce the materials that form the shell. These materials include minerals that the mollusk gets from its food and from the water, sand, or soil in which it lives. A snail seems to carry its shell on its back, but much of its body is actually inside the shell.
If threatened, the snail pulls its head and its muscular foot inside the shell. Many kinds of snails seal the shell’s opening with a hard plate on the end of the foot. Sea snails called limpets have feet that work like suction cups and help them grip rocks firmly so that they are difficult to pry off. 48 AnimAl deFenses INSECT ARMOR most insects’ tough exoskeletons protect their bodies from predators and from drying out. however, some insects—including young insects, such as caterpillars—have soft bodies. they bene? t by adding an extra layer of protective armor. cale insects, for example, are named for the armor they produce. A young scale insect ? nds a spot on a plant where it can feed. then its body oozes substances that form a shield over it. the insect lives underneath this shield. different kinds of scale insects make different kinds of shields. Armored scale insects make hard, waxy shields. soft scale insects make softer waxy coverings, or shields that look like balls of cotton. ground pearls, which are related to scale insects, make round, waxy covers that look like beads. caterpillars of some moths make a sticky, bumpy covering for their bodies.
Ants that bite these caterpillars end up with jaws full of goo. the ants’ bodies and legs also become coated with the sli