Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hidden Defences?

Back in May I posted some pictures of the very egg that this orange tip caterpillar hatched from and since then, with its hedge garlic plant growing in a pot, I've been able to follow the progress of the caterpillar as it has muched its way through the seed pods. Now it's about two weeks old and growing fast. Its colour scheme provides natural camuflage when it aligns itself with the seed pods, but when I enlarged this photo I discovered something else that might be some kind of defence against predators. If you double click this image to enlarge the picture you should be able to see that almost every hair on the body has a small drop of liquid on its tip. This must have been secreted, because we've had blazing sunshine all day and this was taken in late afternoon - the water droplets didn't come from rain or dew. I wonder if the caterpillar secretes some obnoxious substance from those hairs, to keep parasites or predators at bay?  


  1. What a great discovery Phil. I'm sure you're right.

  2. Could well be. There seem to be several caterpillars which can cause skin rashes.
    Had to laugh at myself yesterday. Spotted what I thought was one like yours on a path. Took the camera out of my pocket and crouched down - only to see I was looking at a piece of cactus plant someone had dropped ;)


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