Surely you have seen a nocturnal at least once in your life but, probably, you have never known that the caterpillar is a name by which the nocturnal is commonly indicated. How Much Do You Know About Lepidoptera Larvae? In short, what is the night?
To find out by attracting you to this topic with some curiosity ... we have selected a few that we invite you to read!
What does the night do
During the larval stage, the nocturnal has to consume enough to keep itself "alive" in adulthood. Without adequate nutrition, in fact, it may not have the energy to complete its metamorphosis. Malnourished nocturnes can in fact reach adulthood, but are unable to produce eggs, thus exhausting their function. Remember that caterpillars can eat a huge amount during this phase of the life cycle, which typically lasts several weeks. Some nocturnes are capable of consuming up to 27,000 times their body weight during this phase!
Nocturnes increase their body mass up to 1,000 times
The larval stage of the nocturnal life cycle focuses solely on growth. Within a few weeks, the caterpillar will grow exponentially. And since its cuticle, or skin, is very flexible, the caterpillar is able to mutate several times as it acquires size and mass. Therefore, it is not surprising that caterpillars consume so much food!
A caterpillar's first meal is usually the shell of its egg
In most cases, when a caterpillar comes out of its egg, it consumes the rest of the shell. The outer layer of the egg, called the chorion, is rich in protein and provides the new larva with a nutritious start. Why do without it?
Read also: Caterpillar defoliator, how I take care of my boxwood
One night has 4,000 muscles in its body
Although it is a very small insect, the nocturnal has an incredible number of muscles. Suffice it to remember that humans have "only" 629 muscles in a significantly larger body, while the caterpillar's head alone consists of 248 individual muscles and about 70 muscles that control each segment of the body. Surprisingly, each of the 4,000 muscles is innervated by one or two neurons. In short, a very complex machine, despite its size!
Caterpillars have 12 eyes
On each side of the head, a caterpillar has 6 small eyelets, called stemmata, arranged in a semicircle. One of the 6 eyes is usually slightly offset and located closer to the antennae. One might think that a 12-eyed insect has excellent eyesight, but it doesn't. The stems simply serve to help the caterpillar distinguish between light and dark. If you look at a caterpillar, you will notice that it sometimes moves its head from side to side. This probably helps him judge depth and distance as he advances ... a little blindly.
Caterpillars produce silk
By using modified salivary glands along the sides of the mouth, caterpillars can produce silk as needed. Some caterpillars, such as gypsy moths, disperse "in a balloon" from the treetops on a silk thread. Others instead build silk tents in which they live together. In short, many uses, confirming the creativity of these insects.
Caterpillars have 6 legs (just like butterflies do)
Caterpillars have 6 legs, although you've probably seen more of them. Well, most of those legs are fake legs, and they help the caterpillar improve its grip on plant surfaces, allowing it to climb. In short, only the 3 pairs of legs on the thoracic segments of the caterpillar are the real legs, which it will keep in adulthood.
The nocturnes move in an undulatory movement
Adult caterpillars move in a fairly predictable motion. Usually, the caterpillar first moves with the terminal pair of props and then advances with one pair of legs at a time, starting from the rear end. But there is much more to it than a simple leg action. The blood pressure of the caterpillar changes as it moves forward, and the intestine, which is basically a cylinder suspended inside the body, advances in synchrony with the head and the back.
Nights go to great lengths to avoid becoming a bird snack
Nightlife is very tough, and for this reason they employ all kinds of strategies to avoid becoming a bird snack. Some caterpillars, for example, look like bird droppings… very unattractive. Some worms in the family of Geometridae they mimic twigs and bear signs that resemble leaf scars or bark. Other caterpillars use the opposite strategy, making themselves visible in bright colors to advertise their toxicity. Some caterpillars display large eye vessels to discourage birds from eating them.
Many caterpillars use toxins from plants to their advantage
Caterpillars and plants evolve together. Some host plants produce toxic or unpleasant-tasting compounds to deter herbivores from munching on foliage, but many caterpillars can actually store toxins in their bodies, effectively using these compounds to protect themselves from predators. The classic example of this is the monarch caterpillar and the plant that hosts it, the milk seaweed. The monarch caterpillar ingests glycosides produced by the milky algae and these toxins remain inside the monarch until adulthood, making the butterfly unpleasant for birds and other predators.
We hope to have shared to improve the knowledge of these small and curious insects, full of peculiarities ... in view of the next time you meet them in your garden or elsewhere!