Why Does This Weird Insect Flash Warnings After An Attack?

Kate Umbers was hiking through Australia’s Snowy Mountains in the autumn of 2008, when she saw her first mountain katydid—a thumb-sized insect with the colour and texture of a dead leaf. “I recognised it from the guide books and picked it up excitedly,” she says. “It immediately vomited and flashed its bright colours.”

Emphasis on bright. The insect’s dull brown wing casings flew apart to reveal vivid bands of red, black, and electric blue. The inconspicuous leaf suddenly transformed into a garish Christmas bauble.

Many animals do something similar. When a threat gets close, they flash bright colours, show off distracting eyespots, strike aggressive ...

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