Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Emperor Moth Caterpillars

On our walk to Bolsa we came across this big caterpillar and lots of little black and orange caterpillars. I  must admit I thought they were two separate species, until I conducted further research and discovered they are simply different instars (stages or moults) of the Emperor Moth larvae. This moth undergoes five instars as a caterpillar before entering pupation stage. As caterpillars eat (voraciously), they outgrow their skin several times. They therefore moult, often changing appearance and colour as they do so. The photos show the Emperor Moth in the 3rd and 4th instars. Just when you thought you'd finally got caterpillars sussed! . . .

Emperor Moth larva - Saturnia pavonia - 3rd instar

Emperor Moth larva - Saturnia pavonia - 4th instar
Emperor Moth larva - Saturnia pavonia - 5th instar
(Photo: Fiona or Carl)

Emperor Moth - Saturnia pavonia

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