photos by samuel jaffe showcasing the diversity of massachusetts’ caterpillars. notes samuel, “my goal is to share all the secrets i have gathered about our local environments and about the value of our backyard ecosystems. i hope to show people that we do not need to look to far away places to find the beauty of nature. nature is all around us, under our feet, and in our daily lives.”
Weezbo assembled a fantastic collection of macro photos taken by Indonesian photographer Nordin Seruyan (previously featured here) in his back garden in Borneo, Indonesia. His backyard appears to be a veritable wonderland of beautiful mantises, dragonflies, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, ladybugs and other insects.
A study recently published in the journal American Naturalist details how the cinereous mourner (Laniocera hypopyrra) is covered with bright orange and speckled down-feathers when it is first born. Not only does this soft plumage make the newborn birds looks like one of two large and hairy toxic caterpillars (Megalopyge or Podalia), but the birds will even wriggle like massive bugs for the first 18 days of their life.
The drab grey bird you sea study recently published in the journal American Naturalist, which details how the cinereous mourner (Laniocera hypopyrra) is covered with bright orange and speckled down-feathers when it is first born.e above is capable to tricking predators into thinking that it is a massive a vibrantly colored toxic caterpillar with little effort. (Photo : Wiki CC0 - Hector Bottai)
A cinereous mourner nestling compared to a toxic caterpillar. (Photo : above, Santiago David Rivera; below, Wendy Valencia)
If any of you are ophidiophobic the Department of Awesome Camouflage would like to offer reassurance that, no matter what your eyes or adrenal cortex are trying to tell you, the animals in these photo are NOT snakes. They’re a wily species of caterpillar that wards off predators by expanding and turning the end of its body, which bears the unmistakable markings of a snake’s head on the underside. If approached, they’ll even go so far as to strike like a real snake. These strikes are completely harmless, but they look so convincing that we’re pretty sure we’d flinch all the same.
This fascinating photo was taken by Daniel Janzen, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica. He’s working there cataloguing caterpillars and says this specimen is a member of the genus Hemeroplanes.
It contains the richest biodiversity in China and “may be the most biologically diverse temperate region on earth.” Red pandas and smooth-coated otters (both threatened species) are found here. In Horstman’s words, “everything (insect-wise) is bigger, brighter, more abundant and more bizarre than elsewhere.”
Although he takes fantastic photos of all sorts of insects, today we’re focusing on Horstman’s caterpillar photos. Some of these creatures look utterly alien, some appear to be little more than a smooth blob of jelly and others, such as the slug caterpillars, feature arrats of formidable spines capable of issuing terribly painful stings.
“You don’t acclimatize to the sting – they ALWAYS hurt. The worst incident was early in my stay in China when I stood up under a tree and an entire hatching of stinging slug caterpillars on the underside of a leaf contacted the back of my neck. The instantaneous sensation almost caused me to blackout, but the swelling, redness and burning persisted for a good week.”
You can’t see the caterpillar in the bottom photo because it’s hiding in a tiny pagoda that it built using bits of leave and silk. this is the work of a Bagworm caterpillar. They build these amazing little structures to hide themselves while they’re eating. So shhh, let’s not disturb its meal.
You can follow John Horstman right here onf Tumblr at sinobug. To check out his complete portfolio, and we highly recommend that you do, head over to his endlessly fascinating Flickr account.
Visit Wired to learn more about Horstman’s photography adventures in the wilds of south-western China.