It's the time of the year to get spooky! RSPB Scotland's Molly Martin shares 5 of nature's best Halloween looks.
Nature's creepy costumes
Of all the exciting Halloween activities (eating way too many sweets, carving pumpkins, telling spooky stories), the best part for me has always been dressing up. Designing elaborate costumes, scavenging round the house for things I can stick to myself, and trips to the shops for metres of black fabric and face paint and finally, finally… the costume comes together!
But we’re not the only ones who like pretending to be something we’re not. Across nature there are some very sneaky species disguising themselves as someone else.. here are my top five mimics to spot in the UK:
1. Peacock Butterfly
Its easy to see where this beautiful butterfly gets its name from! With two enormous eyespots designed to ward off predators, the peacock butterfly is a master of disguise. They can also produce a hissing sound by rubbing their wings together, as if they weren’t scary enough already!
2. Elephant hawkmoth
You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a snake at the bottom of your garden if you found this creature, but it’s actually the caterpillar of an elephant hawkmoth! These costumed creatures also use eyespots to distract potential predators, and a spiked tail and undulating movement could give you quite a fright!
3. Golden plover
It’s very important for golden plover chicks that their costume is perfect. It could even be a matter of life or death! By pretending to be a clump of moss these little fluffballs are able to blend into their surroundings, keeping warm and safe until mum or dad come back with a beak full of treats.
4. Orange peel fungus
This eye-catching “peel” isn’t the remnants of someone’s lunch, but a woodland fungus. The orange cups can become completely flat, or be quite scrunched up and folded. This fungus has really committed to the costume, and even the underside looks like the pith of an orange as it white and furry.
5. Ladybird spider
It’s only the males of this species that get involved with dressing up, but as the females are already big black spiders I think we can forgive them for not getting into the Halloween spirit! The males are much smaller and have bright red bodies with black spots, meaning the are easy to mistake for a ladybird! It was thought this species was extinct in the UK, until they were rediscovered in 1980 and are now in recovery, which I think gives them extra fright points!
Have any of these species given you some inspiration for this year’s Halloween costume? Maybe you could paint big eyespots to shock your neighbours, or perhaps you like the orange peel fungus best and feel like dressing up as a piece of litter- very scary! Happy Halloween!
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654