Wildlife Informer is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

14 Examples of Insects That Look Like Leaves

Insects that look like leaves are among the fascinating creatures found in the wild. These animals not only resemble a leaf, but they also mimic its movements in order to hide from predators. They either have leaf-like wings or a leaf-like body.

Those with these characteristics typically belong to the Phylliidae family, though there are other insect species whose appearances may also resemble leaves. In this article, we listed some of the species that use their ability to imitate leaves to survive in the wild.

14 Insects that look like leaves

1. Northern true katydids

Northern true katydids on a leaf
Northern true katydids on a leaf | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Pterophylla camellifolia

Common katydids are among the most well-known insects in North America. They’re found in urban areas, forests, and woodlands throughout the United States. These insects have a long, thick, and bulky green body that looks almost exactly like a leaf.

Northern katydids’ wings have veins resembling a leaf’s thin veins. This species is also known as one of the loudest katydids in North America. Males will call out from high up on branches during mating season so that females can hear them from miles away.

2. South American dead leaf mantis

South American dead leaf mantis
South American dead leaf mantis | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Acanthops falcataria

The South American dead leaf mantis is a type of praying mantis that lives in South American rainforests. It’s well-known for its unique colors and ability to blend in with its surroundings.

These mantises are usually dark brown in color that resemble dried leaves. Beneath their curled wings, they have a striking reddish orange body that they display as a warning. These animals can live for up to six months.

3. Leaf insect

Scientific Name: Phyllium bilobatum

Phyllium bilobatum is a leaf insect native to Southeast Asia. The insect has several adaptations that help it survive in its environment, including a camouflage technique that allows it to blend in with its surroundings and hide against predators. These species can also grow up to 2.9 inches long.

It’s found in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines and Malaysia, and has been observed feeding on tree and shrub leaves. Although the males are much more slender than the females, both have dark lines in their wings that resemble leaves.

4. Ghost mantis

Ghost mantis on dry twig
A ghost mantis on dry twig | image by vil.sandi via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Phyllocrania paradoxa

Ghost mantis is a species of leaf-like insect found in African forests. It has a brownish, dry appearance, similar to a curled-up dried leaf. Males are smaller than females and can only grow to be about 2 inches long.

Females are also known to play dead when threatened, whereas males flee and run away. They prefer to live in shrubs, bushes, and other dry areas where they can easily mimic the environment’s dry leaves.

5. Philippine leaf insect

Scientific Name: Phyllium philippinicum

The Philippine leaf insect is a species of leaf insect in the Phasmatodea order. This insect is green in color, but it can also be brown, yellowish-green, or dull pinkish-brown. It can grow to be more than 2 inches long and has long antennae.

Males are also thinner and smaller than females, but they look very similar. They’re herbivores that live in trees and feed on oak, hawthorn, and rose plants.

You may also like:  2 Types of Scorpions in Georgia (ID Pictures)

6. Indian leafwing butterfly

Indian leafwing butterfly on a leaf
Indian leafwing butterfly on a leaf | image by William Warby via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Kallima paralekta

The Indian leafwing butterfly is a lovely and colorful creature with rusty brown wings and a self-defense mechanism that allows it to resemble a leaf. This species, contrary to its name, isn’t found in India, but only in Indonesia. The Indian leafwing butterfly has a camouflaged appearance that aids it in blending in with its surroundings.

The upper side of the wings is colored blue, black, and orange. On the other hand, the underside resembles a dead leaf, with pale yellow, brown, or olive coloring. This allows the butterfly to blend in with its surroundings while resting.

7. Peruvian shield mantis

Scientific Name: Choeradodis rhombicollis

The Peruvian shield mantis is a native species of mantis found in Central, North, and South American forests. They’re common in Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. This insect has a unique appearance that resembles a leaf.

Their wings’ color and pattern give them an authentic leaf-like appearance, which helps them survive in the wild. When these insects are disturbed, they gently vibrate to mimic the movement of the leaves. Large arthropods, as well as lizards and hummingbirds, are the usual animals that are part of their diet.

8. Autumn leaf

Autumn leaf butterfly on a leaf
An autumn leaf butterfly on a leaf | image by Bernard DUPONT via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Doleschallia bisaltide

Autumn leaf is a butterfly with a distinct appearance when at rest. This butterfly is found only in Asia and Australia, where it lives in dense evergreen forests at low elevations.

This insect has pale yellow wings with black veins and spots, as well as a brownish-orange body. Its short tail and rusty brown underside give it the appearance of a dead leaf that has fallen to the ground. When disturbed, autumn leaf butterflies will tend to fly quickly and seek out the nearest tree or shrub to camouflage themselves and confuse predators.

9. Maple spanworm moths

Maple spanworm moth on leaves
Maple spanworm moth on leaves | image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McCl via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Prochoerodes lineola

The maple spanworm is a moth that looks like a leaf. This moth is usually golden brown in color with irregular edges and spots that make them look like a dead leaf during the fall season.

They’re commonly found in North American woodlots and swamps, particularly in Canada. You will also see them feeding on blueberry, cherry, aspen, willow, birch, soybeans, sweet-fern, and maple.

10. Green fruit-piercing moth

Green fruit-piercing moth on white surface
Green fruit-piercing moth on white surface | image by LiCheng Shih via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Eudocima salaminia

The green fruit-piercing moth is another leaf-like insect that can be found in the wild. This moth typically has curled green, brown, or white wings resembling a folded leaf.

The green fruit-piercing moth is found in India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. It prefers tropical climates with plenty of trees and plants from which to feed and lay eggs. Carambola, mango, banana, citrus, kiwifruit, stonefruit, ripening papaya, fig, and guava are usually their preferred plant species.

11. Common gum emerald moths

Common gum emerald moth on the wall
A common gum emerald moth on the wall | image by Donald Hobern via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Prasinocyma semicrocea

Common gum emerald moths are small green moths with leaf-like wings. They belong to the Geometridae family of moth species and are found in Australia. As larvae, they’re inchworms or loopers.

They live in deciduous forests and grasslands, eating wattle and gum tree leaves. Their wingspans are about 2 cm and have dull green wings with faded white lines and brown edges that look like leaves at first glance.

You may also like:  11 Examples of Animals That Start With F (Pictures)

12. Giant Malaysian leaf insect

Scientific Name: Pulchriphyllium giganteum 

The giant Malaysian leaf insect is a large, green insect that resembles a leaf. These animals even have leaf-like patterns on their wings that, when they’re still, give them the appearance of leaves. To avoid being eaten by predators, they use their appearance to camouflage in all environments.

Young leaf insects are typically reddish in color and turn green once they begin feeding on plants. This species is also known to breed asexually, meaning it doesn’t require males to reproduce. They can reach a length of 5 inches and are extremely passive animals.

13. Blue oakleaf

Blue oakleaf butterfly on a twig
A blue oakleaf butterfly on a twig | image by Balakrishnan Valappil via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Kallima horsfieldii

Blue oakleaf butterflies are one of India’s unique butterflies. They’re very good at camouflaging in dried leaves due to their wings that have evolved to look like one.

Their wings’ undersides are rusty brown, with veins and patterns that mimic dried leaves in the trees. When they open their wings, you can see the butterfly’s beautiful blue color with black patterns and brownish color on the hindwings.

14. Common brimstones

Common brimstone sipping nectar
A common brimstone sipping nectar | image by hedera.baltica via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Gonepteryx rhamni

Common brimstones are a type of insect found in Europe and North America. Though they have a leaf-like appearance, they’re actually butterflies. Adult butterflies are most commonly seen from June to August, when they emerge from their cocoons.

They have up to a 2.7-inch wingspan and feed on buckthorn plants. During their breeding season, you can find these butterflies in wetlands, where they travel to lower elevations to lay their eggs on their host plants.