Why Insects have Camouflage
When I walked outside this morning a pee-wee flew over the fence straight towards me. (For those of you who don't know what a pee-wee is it's the Queensland term for a magpie lark.) ((For those of you who don't know what a magpie lark is it's a lark that looks like a magpie, or possibly vice versa.)) As it sliced through the air towards me it looked to its right and swooped to a halt a couple of feet from me on another fence, this one made of bundles of grey twigs, scooped up a brown moth and flew off. I was surprised. I would never have seen that moth if the pee-wee hadn't drawn my attention to it. I felt like I had let my primate ancestors down. My monkey relatives would probably appreciate a nice juicy moth and if they had seen what happened they would probably screech with laughter at me for being shown up by a bird with a brain the size of half a peanut. And they would probably keep laughing right up to the point where I used them for medical experiments. (Who's laughing now, monkey boy? How about I inject you with some more of this bird flu, He Who Laughs at Homo Sapiens?)
But what I can't figure out is why a brown moth was sitting on a gray fence. Surely they don't do this sort of thing just so we can have textbook examples of evolution in action? I have arrived at two possible conclusions:
1. Moths are colour blind.
2. Moths are stupid.
After giving it some thought I considered a third possibility:
3. Gray moths turn brown when they see a pee-wee coming in an attempt to scare them off.
I am aware that if my third point proves true it also provides support for point 2.