camping tips

This Caterpillar Wears it’s Old Heads as a Hat

Photo by Densey Clyne in the Holophusicon

Meet the Mad Hatterpillar. We already know that Australia and New Zealand are jammed full of crazy creatures who want to eat your face, but when it comes to weird, this caterpillar takes the cake. Known as the uraba lugens, these larvae of a Gum Leaf Skeletoniser moth have a rigid exoskeleton. That means that their exoskeletons can’t grow as they do. They shed their exoskeletons for larger ones several times before being big enough to graduate to the cocoon stage. For some reason, this particular caterpillar holds on to it’s old heads, piling them up to form a rather macabre chapeau.

It’s not known exactly why the Mad Hatterpillar hordes its heads, but it may be to distract would-be predators. If you do come across one, don’t touch it because it is covered with protective spines which cause itching, burning welts that could irritate for days.


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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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