with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Patterns in Nature: Beetle Camouflage on Tree

Beetle camouflage

We love looking for patterns in nature to photograph and nature provides no end of opportunities. This beetle was almost passed by as it blends so perfectly in with the tree bark. It’s near perfect as camouflage.

To photograph patterns in nature, specifically subjects that resemble other more family subjects or those that melt away into their environment, you have to have what Brent’s family called a “good eye.” You have to pay attention to details, be very patient, and be open to discovery. It’s a child-like detective adventure, trying to bring order to the chaos of shapes and lines and designs around us. Our brain wants to force coherent images out of random or abstract designs, finding letters of the alphabet in moss and worm patterns on leaves, faces in flowers, or tree bark on bugs.

Recently, my in-laws updated their kitchen with new tiles, sink, and counter top. They searched and searched for months to find the right design in the stone counter and finally decided upon a green, blue, black, and gray pattern with lines of white running through it with the occasional swirl in its bend. It’s beautiful and very unusual. Fascinated with the decision process, I asked them why they chose this one. My mother-in-law explained that while it didn’t have the exact colors they wanted, dad liked it because it looked like the earth from a satellite perspective.

As our eyes turn out to the stars and back towards this tiny planet we call home, the range of recognizable imagery we can impose upon nature expands. Suddenly shapes and forms in nature look more like the horse head nebular or the cat’s eye galaxy, or the view of our planet’s surface from hundreds of miles into space.

Maybe someday this won’t be a beetle that resembles the bark it rests on, but an alien on the surface of a planet in a far off distant corner of the galaxy.

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