Nolidae is a family of moths with about 1,400 described species worldwide. Their caterpillars developed a very unique way of hiding from enemies. This species of caterpillar grows an enlarged, green coloured, section of abdomen which overlaps its actual head. It is thought this acts as a deterrent to birds by resembling unripe berries.
Another post by Andrea Lim, again in Cairns - a caterpillar that appears to have choked to death on a watermelon. Very Hungry Caterpillar you ain’t.
Actually, it’s a Nolid caterpillar, and this species isn’t the only one with a gigantically inflated first abdominal segment. It’s been found feeding on Golden Penda and Blake Paperbark in Queensland, and is being investigated as a possible biological control of Paperbarks in Florida. The adult moth isn’t much to write home about, being an undistinguished brown with a few darker blotches.
When caterpillars involuntarily or intentionally drop from the tree canopy, they can regain their original position by climbing silk lifelines spun out from the head spinnerets. They may utilise this feature when disturbed and as a means of escape from predators or when it comes time to relocate due to defoliation or to moult or pupate.
Image BELOW: Tiny early instar Nolid Moth caterpillars (Chloephorinae, Nolidae) shimmy up a silken lifeline back to the leaf they bungeed from when disturbed. Each caterpillar made the leap of faith on their own strand of silk but the multiple strands coalesce when they come into contact with each other providing a more stable return journey.