Fascinating Plant Fakes Sickness to Avoid Predators
We all know that strange animals camouflage themselves for all kinds of reasons, from the need to sneak up on prey to the advantages of being stealthier predators, but this is the first known case of an exotic plant that ‘pretends‘ to be ill as an evolutionary advantage in order to avoid being eaten.
Found in the rain forests of Ecuador these sick-looking plants appear to have already been attacked. As a rule of (green) thumb, plants that compromise their ability to transform sunlight into energy via photosynthesis die out. However, in this case the survivors seem to be those that sacrifice light-harvesting capacity for a clever camouflaged appearance.
Typically, the top predator of this particular plant lays its eggs on the leaves , which in turn hatch into larvae that leave a trail of white behind as they feast on the leaves. By displaying a white pattern from the outset, however, these plants look already-inhabited and thus further egg-laying moths are deterred from laying their own offspring.