Lynne Freer's picture

odd caterpiller behaviour

staying with my aunt & she has 4 caterpillars on the ceiling of her balcony(4th floor) they all look like they have babies! at 1st i thought they were being eaten by whatever they are laying ontop of, but after watching them for sometime today they really look like they have teeny tiny babies...they are not all together their quite spaced it possible for them to have live young?? they are green with a yellow strip down their backs, ive seen them plenty of times before but never doing this!



Alan Thornhill's picture


Amadan's picture

I'd say Alan is spot on

This sounds very much like caterpillars that have been attacked by a parasitoid. Various wasp species are perhaps the commonest (or so I remember reading!), but I'm sure they're not alone in exploiting this massive food resource. For many species of insect, the caterpillar is the "eating machine", and the adult the "breeding machine". Quite a few adults don't food at all. So the caterpillar is where the greater food reserve can be found. That's why some caterpillars have evolved to eat toxic plants, concentrating the toxins in their bodies to deter predators and parasitoids. Of course, some of these have learnt to tolerate the toxins as well.
Humans eat very few caterpillars world-wide: perhaps we have something to learn!