Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jewel And Spun Glass Caterpillars

Spun Glass Slug Moth caterpillar
[Photo: John Howard]

This moth is found from New York to Florida and west to Colorado and Texas. As you can see the slug moth caterpillar is pretty much transparent. It's also covered in spiny hair and is mildly poisonous. They eat Swamp Oak.

They're called a "slug" caterpillar because they're slimy like slugs.


Spun Glass Slug Caterpillar
[photo: John Howard]

Spun Glass Slug Moth
[photo: byrdwatcher5]

The Spun Glass Slug Moth wingspan is 19-24 mm and they're pretty dowdy when contrasted with the larvae. Females are larger than males and they have a thicker and more blackish spot. Adults are on wing from June to August.


Jewel Caterpillar
[photo: Daniel Janzen]

Jewel Caterpillar
[photo: artour_a]

Jewel Caterpillar
[photo:  Gerardo Aizpuru]

The translucent version with the orange dots was found in Cancun. I couldn't find a lot of information on them - would you believe they don't have a write up in wiki? - but one of the things someone reported was the gelatinous spines on this creature break away easily indicating that maybe it's a defense mechanism like an iguana's break away tail. 

Jewel Caterpillar
[photo: Daniel Janzen]

Usually, in nature, brilliant colour alerts predators to the likelihood of poison but in this case, scientists do not know why jewel caterpillars are so colorful. Daniel Janzen, a biologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has raised Dalceridae in captivity and he has no evidence that Dalceridae are poisonous. He also knows that they do not sting, unlike some of their cousins.


Jewel Caterpillar
[photo: Daniel Janzen]

Jewel Caterpillar Moth
[photo: Daniel Janzen]

For more information about this caterpillar check out this article.

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