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Bizarre Bugs ─ Pretty but Creepy No: #5: Jewel Caterpillar

Looks like something Lady Gaga would wear. It’s not a piece of shiny accessory though but an insect.

Not much is known about the Jewel Caterpillar besides its place under the Dalceridae moth family as Acraga Coa.

 

Another look at the Jewel Caterpillar. Pic by Daniel Janzen
Another look at the Jewel Caterpillar. Pic by Daniel Janzen

 

Biologists aren’t sure why these insects are made like bling but they suspect it’s a defence mechanism against predators. According to the Scientific American article written by Ferris Jabr, scientists conducted experiments to see what effect the larvae would have on its predators when they were put together on a petri dish. They used ants as attackers. Apparently, the glutinous gumdrop-shaped spines, which can break off easily, caused the ants to back away from the caterpillar without attacking it. The ants that took a bite of the larvae’s jelly coat found their mouths temporarily glued. However, the jelly did not kill.

But the most bizarre is yet to come.  When the Jewel Caterpillar transforms and emerge from their chrysalises as moths, their crystal bodies turn a bright orange and they grow hairs ─ like below ─ with not a single, recognisable resemblance to their bejewelled childhood. (Featured image by imgur)

Here’s what they look like when they grow up. Totally different! Pic by Daniel Janzen
Here’s what they look like when they grow up. Totally different! Pic by Daniel Janzen

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