there is a creature native to Kenya called the flattid bug, and I was introduced to it in Nairobi, some years ago, by the great Dr. L.S.B. Leakey. What Dr. Leakey introduced me to was a coral-coloured flower of a raceme sort, made up of many small blossoms like the aloe or hyacinth. Each blossom was of oblong shape, perhaps a centimetre long, which on close inspection turned out to be the wing of an insect. The colony clinging to a dead twig comprised the whole of a flower so real in its seeming that one could only expect from it the scent of spring…
the coral flower that the flattid bug imitates does not exist in nature. The flattid bug has created the form… from each batch of eggs that the female lays there will always be at least one producing a creature with green wings, not coral, and several with wings of in-between shades.
I looked closely. At the tip of the insect flower was a single green bud. Behind it were a half dozen partially matured blossoms showing only strains of coral. Behind these on the twig crouched the full strenght of flattid bug society, all with wings of purest coral to complete the colony’s creation and deceive the eyes of the hungriest of birds.
Leakey shook the slick. The startled colony rose from its twig and filled the air with fluttering flattid bugs. They seemed no different in flight than any other swarm of moths that one encounters in the African bush. Then they returned to their twig. They alighted in no particular order and for an instant the twig was alive with the little creatures climbing over each other’s shoulders in what seemed to be random movement. But the movement was not random. Shortly the twig was still and one beheld again the flower. The green leader had resumed his bud-like position with his varicoloured companions just behind. The fullblown rank-and-file had resumed its accustomed places. A lovely coral flower that does not exist in nature had been created before my eyes.