The caterpillar of a particular species is capable of a real feat in terms of defensive strategy. Indeed, she can choose to modify her appearance in order to resemble a snake. This allows it to fool its many predators in order to protect itself from them.
A very surprising technique
“Lepidoptera” is the learned name given to butterflies. These have perhaps the most fascinating of biological cycles with their four stages of development each corresponding to a different appearance. After the egg hatches, the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis and then a butterfly. The larval stage (caterpillar) is surely the one during which the animal is the most vulnerable. The main reason for this vulnerability is its movement, the slowness of which is evident. Some species use specific means to defend or protect themselves. It can be camouflage, stinging hairs or toxic thorns.
The species Hemeroplanes triptolemus common in several Latin American countries takes on the appearance of another animal. In the larval stage, the caterpillar has a yellow-green body below and brown above. These colors allow it to blend in with the decor of the rainforest. However, this camouflage is not sufficient against its predators.
When threatened, the caterpillar in question retracts its legs and stretches the front segments of its body. It then sports a very impressive shape, looking like two drops of water like a threatening little snake! As the video at the end of the article shows, its appearance becomes quite disconcerting. In addition, the caterpillar accentuated the resemblance until it revealed two dark spots giving a “snake eyes” effect.
Many caterpillars use it
Among the many predators of this caterpillar, birds occupy a special place. Faced with the metamorphosis, however, they believe they are facing to one of their own predators. Otherwise, an American study published in 2010 claimed that “snake eyes” was part of the strategy adopted by hundreds of tropical caterpillar species. So obviously, the smartest birds don’t let themselves be fooled. However, this method still has widely proven.
Despite an efficiency rate not reaching 100%, the track continues to use its technique. She transforms until the threat subsides before finally “relaxing”. Sometimes she can even pretend to attack his predator in order to accentuate the effect of surprise and thus increase its chances of survival.
Discover this surprising “snake-caterpillar” in pictures: