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Thread: Predatory moth caterpillar discovered

  1. #1
    RL7836's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
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    Although other predatory caterpillars have been discovered (ie:Harvester), this is a 1st for one to tie up it's prey like a spider...

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]> Hawaiian caterpillars hunt like spiders -report
    > Jul 22, 10:18 AM (ET) WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tiny, snail-eating
    > caterpillars found in Hawaiian rain forests tie up their prey with
    > sticky silk and snack on them at leisure, surprised scientists said on
    > Thursday. It is the first time that caterpillars that eat snails or
    > any other mollusk have been found, the researchers write in Friday's
    > issue of the journal Science. And while caterpillars of all kinds spin
    > silk to make cocoons, this is the first time one has been seen to use
    > it as spiders do to capture prey. "Although all caterpillars have silk
    > glands, this predatory caterpillar uses silk in a spiderlike fashion
    > to capture and immobilize prey," Daniel Rubinoff and William Haines at
    > University of Hawaii wrote in their report.
    > The caterpillars of the newly described species, Hyposmocoma
    > molluscivora, are small -- about a third of an inch (8 mm) long.
    > Wrapped in their cocoons, they "lumber along" leaves, Rubinoff and
    > Haines said. "The caterpillars do not eat plant foliage, even when
    > starving," they wrote. Instead, they hunt Tornatellides snails. When
    > they find one, "they immediately begin to spin silk webbing attaching
    > the snail shell to the leaf on which it rests, apparently to prevent
    > the snail from sealing itself against the leaf or dropping to the
    > ground," the researchers wrote. "The larva (caterpillar) then wedges
    > its case next to or inside the snail shell and stretches much of its
    > body out of its silk case, pursuing the retreating snail to the end of
    > the shell from which there is no escape. We observed 18 attacks by 10
    > different larvae following this sequence." Sometimes the caterpillars
    > decorate their silk casings with empty snail shells, probably as a
    > form of camouflage, the researchers said. The caterpillars eventually
    > become small moths. The researchers say they are surprised by the
    > findings and note the caterpillars join a range of unusual Hawaiian
    > fauna, including spiders that impale their prey in
    > flight. "Caterpillars and terrestrial snails co-occur widely on all
    > the continents where they are present, but only in Hawaii have
    > caterpillars evolved to hunt snails," they wrote.
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  2. #2

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    Mar 2002
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    That is a pretty neat article. Thanks for sharing...nature is getting meaner by the year. tee hee...Maybe Mothra will come true!
    \"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.\"
    -- Oscar Wilde

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