If you’re a hungry bird in western Malaysia, good luck finding any “Common Baron Caterpillars”. Plenty of other butterfly larvae blend in with local plants, but few can vanish into vegetation like the baron.
Baron caterpillars evolved their elaborate shapes and colors for that single purpose: hiding from predators. This boosts their odds of becoming common baron butterflies, and therefore reproducing. Native to India and Southeast Asia, barons often feed on the leaves of mango trees, like this one in a Kuala Lumpur garden. That can sour their relationship with mango farmers, though — yet another reason camo comes in handy.
That’s radical. I scrolled by this thinking, “what a funny looking leaf” and didn’t even realize it was a caterpillar until I read the description.