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A Caterpillar That Pretends to be a Fearsome Snake

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posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 08:46 PM
Hey ATS, I found some info and pics of this awesome caterpillar that uses it's looks to ward off predators.

At first glance it may look like a fearsome snake but this rearing creature is actually a small caterpillar with a cunning means of defence.

The Spicebush Swallowtail has evolved a large pair of false eyespots and bold yellow and blue markings to frighten off potential predators.

The brightly coloured insect, which is only a few inches long, was snapped by wildlife biologist Jonathan Mays in Maine, U.S. He was photographing the striking caterpillars and the large black and orange butterflies they turn into in a red maple forest.

Mr Mays, said: ‘Swallowtail caterpillars are beautiful creatures. They strike a sense of wonder from many observers.

‘Swallowtails have spots on their head that mimic snake eyes and are amazing to view. ‘The disguise is very lifelike, so much so that even the reflection or eye-shine changes when viewed from different angles.

‘The habitat was a spicebush stand amidst a red maple forest. I was at this site looking specifically for the caterpillars.’

The photographs show two different Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars. One was found moving to a new feeding position while another was spotted inside its leaf retreat.

The caterpillars also have a few other tricks to keep them safe. When they first hatch out, the tiny caterpillars look like little brown bird droppings. They spend most of the day folded up inside leaves as they develop.

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 08:49 PM
Here are some other cool caterpillars for your enjoyment.

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:00 PM
Nice find and nice pics. Very interesting.

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:07 PM
Those are really cool. Now I feel itchy, Thanks

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:41 PM
Wow, wonderfully bizarre! Thanks for bringing them onboard.

The black and red one looks like it has blue feathers on it's back.
I know, not actual feathers, just really cool fur?

I am ceaselessly amazed at Mother Nature's splendid design and coloring!


[edit on 5-6-2010 by speculativeoptimist]

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:53 PM
cute little babies!! now that true sci fi creatures.

posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 09:55 PM
This is what I call awesome! Thanks for sharing.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 03:32 AM
this is soo weird..
only because I woke up about 30 minutes ago..
dreaming of both a caterpillar and a snake! lol


good stuff, thanks!
got to be the coolest caterpillar ive seen!
thanks for the other shots to!

[edit on 6-6-2010 by Ahmose]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 03:56 AM
reply to post by Ahmose

here is the caterpillar i seem to most connect with.. lol

[edit on 6-6-2010 by Ahmose]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 05:21 AM
Wow, amazing Pics!

That first one looks so cute, like something out of a Pixar movie and those other ones look like they belong on the set of Starship Troopers, especially the last one.


[edit on 6-6-2010 by skitzspiricy]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 09:53 AM

I know they're pretty and everything, and then they turn into butterflies and stuff, but these little bastards cause total havoc in my urban garden.

The ones I get are leaf rollers, Cutworms and the even more menacing Tobacco Hornworm.

The leaf rollers are too small to see really until they get maybe halfway thru their larvae stage. They chew little holes, and tend to infest. You organic people out there can thank them for the needs to use pesticides.

The other 2 are much larger, and cause overnight destruction. They don't even eat the leaves, instead they lop the whole leaf off at the stem and suck on it like a straw. They waste the leaf, and I've even had them regularly lop off eggplant and tomato leaf stems the width of a pencil. However, with seedlings they chew them right down to the dirt, which screws up your planting schedule having to start certain ones over again.

Last year I went out there with a handheld propane torch to wax a massive hornworm. The things are the size of my pinky, and if you disturb them they literally swing their body at you causing a thud on impact. You can really feel it. And they have a major grip. So I decided the torch method. I fired that thing to a total crisp, and he still never let go from his one end he was holding on with.

These big worms normally only come out at night. The cutworms in particular hide in the dirt during the day. So I flood each pot when I'm watering to try and spot them coming up for air. I've never actually found a hornworm in the soil. But they're so bright green you usually wont even spot them until (1) you can see a path of destruction and (2) they're massive and harder to miss.


With the cutworms I sometimes FLICK them and they splat green ooze. Other times I throw them up on the metal carport roof next door. Mmm: Florida SUN! Sometimes I'm more 'compassionate', so I throw them in my 55 gallon plastic compost bin drum, to get back some of my nutrients.

When the leaf rollers get big enough they roll the leaf of their host plant to make a little den. So I just squish the leaf tube and splat.

Originally posted by TV_Nation
Here are some other cool caterpillars for your enjoyment.

Yeah, grab a hold of one of them and see how much you enjoy it!!

[edit on 6-6-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 10:57 AM
reply to post by TV_Nation

Awww he looks like something out of Pokemon, i want one! The others are pretty cool as well.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 02:03 PM
I had a green one that was recently going to town on my pepper plant. It was in the Sphingidae family. I was hoping it would get satiated but the little bugger ate everything down to the budding green pepper. After looking it up and finding out that it turns into those larger moths, I thought to myself: "what the heck, I don't need to impede the life cycle for a measly pepper plant."

He was plump and juicy though, looked like a roaster. I bet a little spicy, too, after downing all that capsicum.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 02:08 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

No need for pesticides!!! Neem oil is the way to go. It's just oil from a tree and it is effective on caterpillars (not 100% sure for those specific kinds). This stuff is the best pesticide I have ever used and also has many health benefits! Neem oil will never hurt your plants, just takes a good spray once every 2 weeks and it will prevent those little guys from reproducing! Also very cheap

(edit to add link, really great information.)

[edit on 6-6-2010 by NWtoHide]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 02:18 PM
reply to post by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Two words: diatomaceous earth...put it around the base of the plant and it will either kill them or keep them away.

I think that a propane torch is a, if not theatrical, and quite a bit of work for one individual pest.

You can't blame the creature if you created a niche for it. Don't want the creature, don't create the niche. Obviously, though, you want your garden to flourish.

I suppose you could research plants that repel them due to odors and what not and intersperse them amongst your crops. Marigolds distract bugs and I found that lepidoptera larvae are fond of them so putting them between your tobacco may help:

Although, I'm one to talk. It's summer now, so here in Florida the palmetto bugs (cockroaches) are out in force and I have to kill them on sight. I always apologize, even if that makes me sound crazy. I mean, you can't blame them, they like the palmettos. We gave them an easier lifestyle with our bits of sugar and morsels of food left around in nooks and crannies. around the house.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 02:37 PM

Originally posted by Sphota
I think that a propane torch is a, if not theatrical, and quite a bit of work for one individual pest.

lol, yeah, but actually I go after stink bugs and ants primarily with it. Flicking stiff body stink bugs doesnt always kill them, but a good torch to the face does.

Then I have these little black ants. Millions of them... I killed last year alone and even using pesticides never fully put them down. They tend the smaller pest bugs like livestock. I guess they like to eat their poop instead of them.

Although the thing with the hornworms is they don't let go. Like I said they have massive grip. So it's either cut them in half (and they still hang on), or crispy them when I find them.

Check out my thread. In my front section I have marigolds, garlic, green onions and lemon grass planted all throughout in each pot even.

[edit on 6-6-2010 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss]

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 02:38 PM
Beautiful photos. God's design in nature is truly breathtaking.

With that said, I'm still completely creeped out by insects. However, I can acknowledge their beauty.

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 04:03 PM
Proof of Alien life!

Ahhhhhh Runnnnnn!!!

I think more than a couple of those would make great aliens in the old Dr Who series...

Now that I got that outta my system:

I totally agree with Ashley...the varieties of life are awe inspiring...
And keep them away from me!

posted on Jun, 6 2010 @ 04:22 PM
Huh. I was just watching a Discovery program which included a segment on the Lonomia caterpillar that is more venomous than many snakes. According to the special it can kill a human being.

Here is a link to an article about it.

I knew there were deadly snakes, spiders, jellyfish, and even frogs .. but caterpillars??


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