In nature, trickery and deception are widespread. Animals and plants mimic other objects or species in the environment for protection, trick other species into rearing their young, lure prey to their death, and deceive potential mates for reproduction. Cuckoos lay eggs carefully matched to their host’s own clutch. Harmless butterflies mimic the wing patterning of a poisonous butterfly to avoid being eaten. Some orchids develop the smell of female insects in order to attract pollinators, while carnivorous plants lure insects to their death with colourful displays. The Exeter Professor of Evolutionary Ecology considers what deception tells us about the process of evolution and adaptation.