Some people are of the opinion to leave caterpillars alone as they transform into beautiful, colourful butterflies sooner or later. However, during the time period before they make the magical alteration, they wreck total havoc onto any plants they crawl across, defoliating shrubberies and hedges overnight. Their chewing power is amazing. Here are a few odd facts about caterpillars for you to digest.
- Caterpillars are like bodybuilders. They have around 4,000 muscles and no skeleton whatsoever. Humans only have about 650 muscles. They are also picky eaters. For example, the Great Purple Hairstreak caterpillar only eats mistletoes, the Zebra Longwing eats solely passionflowers and the Monarch caterpillar consumes only milkweed.
2. When a caterpillar breaks free from its egg, the first source of food it will usually go for is its eggshell. This is because the eggshell contains protein which will provide it energy to search for some tasty leaves to munch on.
5. They undergo moulting, which is shedding of their skin, just like snakes do. This happens when they grow really fast, and their current skin becomes way too stretched and tight. Before they turn into butterflies or moths, they would have moulted around 5 times and their final form usually looks different from their initial look. Many would have produced hairs, spines and become a different colour.
6. Certain species of caterpillar are poisonous. Some plants contain toxins that are poisonous to certain animals. However, these crafty caterpillars consume these plants and store the toxins inside them without any damage done. Thus, predators such as birds will avoid these caterpillars as they can secrete the toxins at will.
Humans that come into contact with stinging caterpillars may experience itching, burning and might even get a nasty rash.
For example, the saddleback caterpillar possesses hairs that secrete venom which cause nausea and rashes.
Being in contact with the puss caterpillar results in burning, and a pain that lasts for a few hours.