Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Caterpillars, Bonobos, European Songbirds and More…

(Cheryl Carlin)

Parachuting Caterpillars

Parachuting Caterpillars
(Kazuo Yamazaki / Journal of Insect Science)
Caterpillars that live in treetops typically crawl or jump or rappel down silk threads to the ground, where they spin cocoons. But one nettle caterpillar goes its own way, according to a new study in the Journal of Insect Science. Larvae of the moth Scopelodes contracta—found in Japan, China and India—nibble through a leaf to detach it from the stem. The caterpillars cling to the leaf as it floats to the ground, as if riding down on a parachute.

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