Mystery of a CaterpillarNovember 19, 2009 at 11:19 am | Posted in itchy fingers | 6 Comments
Tags: Bugs, Nature
The first time Itchyfingers saw this strange caterpillar was at the zoo. Spotted this fellow munching leaf and was immediately drawn by its huge green lump.
As the plant was kinda blocked among other plants, it was a bit tough to go nearer to take a closer look at the caterpillar…So I tried to move my position and finally managed to take this picture. At that moment of time, I was just concerned about whether the picture would turn out sharp or not cos it was really a bit far to take a good closeup…
It was only back home on the computer screen that we realised that the big
green lump is the head after looking at the legs. The first three pairs legs on the
thorax are called the thoracic or true legs, which will develop into the adult legs of
butterfly. The other legs on the abdomen are called the pro-legs, which end in small,
hook-like suction cups called crochets. Since pro-legs don’t have segments or joints,
they’re not real legs. These disappear when the caterpillar metamorphoses into
a butterfly or a moth
Hmmm…now that is interesting cos that was the first time Itchyfingers saw this big headed caterpillar. We were curious to find out whose caterpillar was that but unfortunately couldn’t get the answer after seeking help from friends and searching online. All we found was that the caterpillar belongs to a moth, exactly which one we don’t know. But we found a beautiful picture of the caterpillar here. Someone commented that it is “Probably a nolid in the tribe Careini. Two moth species from Hong Kong in the genus Carea have this swollen thorax.” Itchyfingers tried looking under the keywords he mentioned but couldn’t find much information.
It was after a second encounter with this caterpillar that Itchyfingers finally found the name of this caterpillar.
I was having a leisurely walk with some friends at Sime Forest when one friend found this among the leaves. Must say she really have good eye sight… :p Actually we were looking for butterflies and insects that day.. hahah
Can you see anything here? These were different leaves from the ones I
first saw the caterpillar
When I saw this guy I was so happy, cos this time his position was much better. We could go much nearer to examine it closely…too bad I don’t have macro lens with me…
There are some white spots on the swollen green lump that really looked
Ooo..nice red legs…hahah…The picture on this site shows that the big lump
is actually the thorax and not the head. So I think we shouldn’t be calling
it the Big-head caterpillar anymore, but the Big-chest caterpillar! Hahaha!
Back home, I relooked at the genus name from the comment made on the macro shot found earlier. I was more determined this time to find out the identity of this moth. At last, after combing through the net, I finally found similar pictures of the caterpillar which lead me to these information – this is the larva (or caterpillar) of Carea varipes (Superfamily Noctuoidea, Family Nolidae, Subfamily Chloephorinae, Tribe Careini). Larvae are large and obvious leaf feeders but have not been observed in large numbers, perhaps because of their own natural enemies. Pupation occurs in rolled or between touching leaves. But the moth doesn’t look very pretty…hahah…(more moth pic here). But the information points to the species from Hong Kong, so I am not sure if the ones in Singapore are the same…It should still be a Nolid moth caterpillar, but exactly which one…well, we will need more expert opinion then. Guess the mystery of the caterpillar is still half solved. 😦 Certainly hope to be able to learn more of this caterpillar/moth! Do drop Itchyfingers a note if you have more information to share! 😀
Also see related post:
> Seeing Double