I think I saw a butterfly that wasn't real, turns out I was fooled by a grasshopper

EDIT: After several people had told me about the Carolina Grasshopper I looked back through the footage I captured of what I though was a phantom butterfly to see the grasshopper was there the whole time.
My brain had filtered that detail out since I was searching for a dark colored butterfly, not a beige grasshopper. I’m still keeping my original statement up because I think it’s funny.

I was walking along Old Mill Park in Silverdale Washington. I spotted a butterfly as it took off before landing about 20 feet away. I saw as it landed with its wings spread before disappearing into the ground, and every time I approached where I saw it land there where no organisms there at all. I was filming every time I saw it to see if I could catch this illusive insect in a few frames of video. But this butterfly never appeared in any frame of any of my videos. At this exact location I saw the butterfly re appear and land in the middle of the end of the gravel trail. I filmed that spot on my camera as I approached it, keeping that spot in frame the whole time, but I didn’t see anything there. With my own eyes, I saw and I filmed the butterfly as it reappeared and flew behind a rock. When I followed it, it had disappeared again, I never took my eyes off that spot as I approached it, and I never saw the butterfly fly away from that spot, but it was gone. Somehow, this butterfly could will itself in and out of existence. I saw this butterfly phase through the ground without a trace, and reappear several yards away from where it had vanished. It isn’t physically possible for a butterfly to no clip right through solid dirt and rock, it isn’t physically possible for any organism to no clip through anything! I filmed this beautiful butterfly as it materialized itself out of the dirt, it came into existence where there wasn’t anything there before, and flew away, but my camera caught nothing. It wasn’t like any butterfly I’ve seen before, and it didnt look anything like any of the Lepidopteran species that have been seen nearby.

This is a gif from the video I took of the butterfly as it flew away:

I drew what the butterfly looked like from memory, it had a wingspan of between approximately 2.5 to 3 inches. It was last seen at about 4:57 PM PDT on 9/7/2022, at approximately this location.


Could it have been a grasshopper? Something like https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/126206-Dissosteira-carolina - when they land they are completely camouflaged but in flight look like a butterfly.


This thing I saw was more than just camouflaged, it ceased to exist once it landed. I would walk over to where I saw it land, and I’d keep my eye on that spot and be on the lookout for any movement or shapes, and there was nothing but rocks.

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Once, after a head injury, I saw my daughter’s toy cockroach (left over from Halloween) flex its left antenna at me twice, as though waving. I knew it was a toy, and that I was having a visual hallucination due to my injury, and I don’t even mind cockroaches so much, but it was still rather disturbing. However, I have often real encountered insects that were so well camouflaged when they landed that they seemed to disappear entirely. I would guess that is what you saw.


I would walk right up to where I saw it land and would see no insects there at all, even if I brushed my foot over where it landed. And while filming myself walking up to it I never saw anything move or fly away in the footage. I don’t think this was an actual butterfly, but some kind of divine being. You would have just had to have been there.

Perhaps there’s an iSupernaturalist website you can create an observation on.


I was in Connecticut and Rhode Island in July and saw a grasshopper that behaved exactly like you described; it was basically invisible once landed but in flight looked like a butterfly. I didn’t get close enough to get a photo.


I hate to dispute a disappearing butterfly, but @elias105 and @frank103 are right, and the truth is much cooler (in my opinion). You most likely saw a Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina), a butterfly-mimic that fits your description almost perfectly. They go from displaying bright, butterfly-like wings and flight patterns to landing with wings closed. That way, they appear to land in one spot, but really hit the ground a few feet ahead, giving the illusion that they’re able to vanish and reappear at will. They’re very cool animals, and I see them a lot even on the other side of the continent!

Here’s an observation (also from Washington) showcasing the characteristic wing pattern that matches your sketch: Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina) from 13521 10th Ave E, Tacoma, WA, US on July 10, 2018 at 07:07 PM by bluerosemama · iNaturalist


That is such a perfect description of what I saw german species of this grasshopper family perform. They seem to land somewhere, but in reality they just made a u-turn right before landing and then trust in their camouflage. It´s amazing! And I think you and elias are absolutely right… makes much more sense then a butterfly being able to phase in and out of existence :-)


I think there are a few possibilities here and we should consider them in order of decreasing likelihood.

  1. It was a butterfly-mimic grasshopper with great camouflage and evasion behavior. This seems highly plausible and also a cool but benign scenario.

  2. It was a visual hallucination. As @dlevitis said, these can occur due to head injuries or other damage to the brain. If you weren’t under the influence of any substances, or really tired, dehydrated, etc., and you really don’t think it was a grasshopper, consider seeing a doctor.

  3. It was a divine entity, fey creature, or glitch in the Matrix. This seems unlikely, but if you really think this may have been the case, I’d advise you to never go back to that spot ever and do not look for it. Statistically, you’re more likely to be the person that meets some horrible fate at the beginning of the episode than you are to be the protagonist, so it’s best to be safe here.


i wonder if there is an iNaturalist type site for things like ghosts and spirits. Of course, if such things exist, they are outside the linnaean classification system and can’t be added to iNat. The perfectly camouflaged grasshopper thing is an intriguing idea too though, if less otherworldly than a ghost insect.


I totally agree with @elias105 and @frank103. I have seen this behavior many times, and these grasshoppers do really appear to be disappearing butterflies.


Very interesting, I didn’t know that. I do remember chasing one and thinking it just kept disappearing, but eventually did find it on the ground and just blamed the perfect camouflage. I wonder if there’s a video of one landing like that.

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My wife and I have recently started watching (and thoroughly enjoying) an old BBC show called Hustle as our daily entertainment fix.

What I find fascinating is the wide variety of schemes that the grifter team uses (and explains in detail via freeze-framed, fourth wall ‘winking at the audience’ scenes) that makes me think, hey, nature invented that one!

For all the warm, loving, and ‘real’ caricatures of Mother Nature, I’m surprised nobody ever tried making her into a super-con artist, because in truth, nowhere else can you find such variety and constant innovation in deception, illusion and slight of… well, hands, wings, skin, whatever.

Mother N: the ultimate long-con master.


What do you think would happen if I did?

Because you might disappear too!

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That still doesnt explain to me how my camera never picked up on anything when my eyes so clearly did. I had the shot lined up the whole time too while I was filming, and like I said, absolutely nothing. This is one of the main reasons I feel that this is some kind of “higher being”, I took 6 different videos.

Why’s that?

That part is fairly easy to explain. A small object moving rapidly is easy for the average human eye to focus on but harder for a camera to get in focus. And a small object out of focus isn’t going to be visible on most videos.


I took a picture of Mars with that same camera.