(The Gist of Science Reporter) Jewel Caterpillar [MAY-2020]
(The Gist of Science Reporter) Jewel Caterpillar
Jewel slug caterpillar is one of the world’s most stunning caterpillars with a Caterpillar (Acraga coa) or gooey appearance and a fat body. They belong to a member of the Dalceridae family of moths of which 84 species are found in North and South America.
The body of the tiny insect is like a glass covered with colourful spiny protuberances which act as safety guards from their predators as well as the enemies that live in the rainforest. These spiny protuberances which act as a defence mechanism are detachable and can break-off very easily to distract the enemy like a lizard. The caterpillars are found beneath the leaves and are so tiny that they cannot easily be seen and found in nature.
Some of the caterpillars use their body colour to indicate their toxicity and hence warn predators to stay away from them but there is no evidence that the bright colour of Jewel Caterpillar is poisonous or not. The larvae of the jewel caterpillar is generally a flattened structure and instead of prolegs, they have suckers. The thoracic legs of the jewel caterpillars are normally reduced.
Rather than walking, the caterpillars move with the help of rolling waves with individual prolegs and they use a lubricant (a type of liquefied silk) for their movement. The incredible jewel caterpillar eventually turns into a very beautiful orange coloured moth. This small insect attains an overall length of 2.5 cm in length. The jewel caterpillar is a native of Mexico, Costa Rica and several Caribbean islands.