Puss Moth Caterpillar
Some more shots of this amazing caterpillar…
I’m kind of glad that I only found this out after sticking my camera lense 3cm away from this larva, but it is our most dangerous caterpillar! As you saw in my previous post, when it feels threatened it puts on a spectacular display to deter predators. Retracting its head into the first thoracic segment swells the thorax and presents a scarlet lined ‘face’ with false eye markings. It simultaneously extends its ‘tail’, which are actually modified hind legs, developed with extendable pink flagellae which reputedly smell noxious as they wave them fiercely around. If this is not sufficient as a deterrent the caterpillar’s next trick is to squirt formic acid from a specially modified gland in its throat.
Luckily for me I obviously didn’t annoy him unduly with my photographic efforts, as although he extended his tail and showed me his scary face, there was no tail flailing, noxious vapours or, thankfully, squirting of formic acid!