The natural world and the planet Earth are home to many amazing and fascinating species. It is very amazing to observe how various organisms interact with one another and adapt to their environment in order to survive and keep their ecosystems in balance.
Therefore, I was understandably intrigued when I saw images of three “angry snakes” hiding in a tree. And I’m not the only one who has been duped by these extraordinary pictures.
Three serpents grouped together in a tree can send shivers down anyone’s spine. Seeing one serpent in a tree can be frightening enough. But happily, the eye-catching pictures aren’t actually snakes; they’re of something altogether else.
The vast diversity of species found in nature, numbering in the millions, is known as biodiversity. Each species performs a specific purpose within its habitat. There are also amazing adaptations and survival techniques that several animals and plants have evolved over time.
For instance, some insects have evolved camouflage colors to blend in with their surroundings and evade predators, while others have created toxic compounds to defend themselves against predators.
This reality was brought to light even more when images of three irate-appearing “snakes” began to circulate online. Back in 2021, Rob Allam posted a confusing image to Twitter that appeared to show three angry-appearing “serpents” lurking in a tree.
Users quickly realized, though, that the narrative was more complex than first appeared.
The trio of “snakes” is actually only a piece of the wings from two different species of the Atlas moth, which together form an optical illusion.
This amazing kind of moth, which is found only in the jungles of Asia, has the strange ability to resemble the appearance of a snake. The Atlas moth is one of the largest Lepidoptera species, with wingspan that can reach up to 24 cm (9.4 in) and a wing surface area of over 160 cm2 (25 in2).
The Atlas moth’s body has a noticeable size contrast with its wings, being considerably smaller in comparison. One of the biggest insects on the earth, it was initially observed by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Due to its considerable size, it gets its name from the Greek mythological Titan Atlas.
Rob, a Twitter user, shared the trending image and added the following explanation:
”Attacus Atlas is among the largest butterflies worldwide, and during its adult stage, it lives only for a brief span of two weeks. Its primary objective during this stage is to lay eggs and safeguard them until they hatch, all the while camouflaging itself as a snake,” he wrote.
Many users of social media first had trouble accepting that the object in question was indeed a moth.
“That disguise is really good,” one user wrote.
Another user expressed surprise, saying, ”How’s that top one not an actual snake? This moth would live longer if it didn’t look like I wanted to beat it with a broom.”
Contrary to popular belief, Atlas moths are not strong or steady flyers. These moths prefer to sleep during the day and fly actively at night in order to conserve their energy.
According to the National History Museum, the Atlas moth uses a protection strategy when it senses danger by falling to the ground, writhing, and purposefully flapping its wings to resemble the appearance of a snake’s head.
One would probably need to travel to the tropical forests of Asia to experience the awe-inspiring presence of the Atlas moth. However, there have also been reported sightings of Atlas moths in other areas of Europe and the US.
A fascinating occurrence involving a massive Atlas moth was reported by the BBC in 2012, claiming that it had been seen on a windowsill in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester. The moth was so large that the family who found it initially thought it was a bat due to its size. The unusual species is thought to have escaped from a private collection. Sadly, it passed away soon after being discovered.
Another Atlas moth specimen was photographed in Bellevue, Washington, in July 2022, which is a very historic occurrence. This was a historic occurrence because it was the first known sighting of this species in the United States. Another one was discovered in Sweden in 2022.
“This is a ‘gee-whiz’ type of insect, because it is so large,” said Sven Spichiger, the managing entomologist for the state Agriculture Department told NBC News. ‘
He added, “Even if you aren’t on the lookout for insects, this is the type that people get their phones out and take a picture of — they are that striking.”