Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Caterpillar id

Is anybody good at id'ing caterpillars ? I found this geezer the other day trying to break into my apartment. I did some internet searches but unfortunately didn't turn up anything that looked quite like him.

It turns out that when you talk about caterpillars in Japanese (='kemushi'; literally 'hairy insect') this is the type of creature that you are referring to. Rather than become a butterfly, this guy will become a moth and the spines (='urticulating hairs') are likely venomous (this seems to explain why Japanese people don't like kemushi; whereas my image of a caterpillar is of something eating lettuce leaves that is pretty much harmless). In fact, some of the venoms produced by caterpillars are the among the most potent in the animal kingdom (pretty cool huh). Actually, on a remote Okinawan island a few years back I managed to freak out our guide by presenting a funky caterpillar to him on a kayak paddle. Apparently, it was the most feared creature on the island (I am not joking) and it was looking fairly angry (its urticulating hairs which normally down were standing upright)!

Anyway, the other random bit of information that I learned about caterpillars in this process is that they do actually only have 6 legs near the front. The rest are things called "prolegs" that are not jointed and are based upon hydraulics and are pretty funky when viewed up close (as they have these things called 'crotchets' which look like minature venus fly traps).

If anyone knows what kind of caterpillar this is then please let me know!

7 Comments:

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Yumiko said...

yikes...

That's a pretty mean looking one...
I am glad that I was not there to see it in person.

Looks like the window sash needs cleaning too... :-P

 
At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you try http://whatsthatbug.com/ ?

 
At 6:33 AM, Blogger Payara_Confessor said...

I did try whatsthatbug.com but despite the massive number of entries they have there I didn't see anything like this. I think they are more centered around North America and I am not sure how much colour variation a specific caterpillar family might have...

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger A Shropshire Lad said...

I tried the Natural History Museum here in London, but they insisted they only deal with UK insects... and haven't provided contact information of anyone in Japan who they think might be able to help.

Funky looking little beast... (the caterpillar not you!)

 
At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's discusting(sp?). I've never seen such a thing for entire my life. But in another words, you're so lucky! Well lately, friends of mine tell me "Join or Die" and pretend to kill me with light saver... Well, I was down in the mood but they cheered me up!
Anyhow, any weird thing can be your lucky star! Thanks to let me know this interesting web.(any many apologize to my bad spelling!)

 
At 11:23 AM, Anonymous fukumimi said...

You really need to work on your insect identification skills (and your web searching skills)

A quick search will show that it is clearly the larva of Argyreus hyperbius, English common name "Indian Fritillary". As its name suggests, this butterfly is widely distributed from the horn of Africa through South and North East Asia as well as Polynesia and Australia.

It feeds on plants of the violet family, and despite its looks, it is not poisonous and does not sting.

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Payara_Confessor said...

Awesome - Thanks!

Was your identifying search in English or Japanese ?

Looks like it (or a close relative) has made the endangered species list in Oz...

 

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