These are paper birch tree octopi. They are also called Wisconsinite Tree Octopus and pigmy tree octopus. They only live in paper birch trees. We found these on our tree this morning. They are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. They eat the bark and leaves on paper birch trees, and they also eat the aphids that are on the tree. They have no bones, so they can hide from predators under the bark of the tree. The predators are three different types of hawks: the red-tailed, the sharp-shinned, and the Cooper’s.
It is easy to tell between the female and male tree octopus. The female is pink, and the male is brown. Just like their cousin, the giant pacific octopus, they have a tube on the bottom of their head that lets them make a quick escape if a predator is coming. They pump air into the tube and can blow the air out fast. The paper birch tree octopus is related to the endangered pacific northwest tree octopus. It is not related to the octowalrus.
The paper birch tree octopus is quite common in Wisconsin, but they are hard to find because they hide under the bark. They are just starting to come out for the year, so the next time you are out for a walk, look for them on birch trees.