Crawling Bling: Trippy Tropical Jewel Caterpillars

Diamonds In The Rough

(image via: Trasyy’s Journal)

Over the next days and weeks, Aizpuru’s lovely “living jewel” exploded across the Web with lightning speed, prompting a flood of search inquiries asking what the creature was and were there others similar to it.

(images via: Viola.Bz and Biological Beachcombing)

At this point the spotlight shifted somewhat as amateur and professional photographers alike searched online databases and actual rainforest habitats for other members of the Dalceridae family. Could any of Acraga Coa’s cousins rival its larva’s striking good looks?

(images via: Project Noah)

Jewel-like but not gems, Dalceridae larvae such as the specimen above look good enough to pin to one’s blouse though that’s not recommended. In fact, they may look the way they do by design: predatory ants and insects display a distinct distaste for the caterpillars’ gooey, gelatinous coverings.

(images via: Scientific American and Wolfwalz)

It seems as if the caterpillars are well aware of their power to give potential predators pause. They’ve been observed crawling on top of leaves, resting in full view of all and sundry, nonchalantly showing off their glistening coats and apparently daring any enemies to take a bite – and very few do.

(images via: Scientific American and Science Photo Library)

It’s hard to get a handle on which Dalceridae caterpillar is which. Not that entomologists are “sluggish” in any way, it’s just that the combination of the creatures’ hard to reach habitats and the fact that many caterpillars look different from one molt to another make identifying any one Dalceridae larva a bit of a guessing game.

(images via: Project Noah)

Than again, what’s in a name? For non-scientists who don’t have to submit a thesis, simply enjoying the wonders of nature as expressed by Jewel Caterpillars is enough of a blessing. Take the lime green critter above: could it hold a candle to an emerald or vice versa? Let’s not try holding candles to emeralds or Jewel Caterpillars, mmkay?

Orange You Glad It’s A Moth?

(image via: Artour_A)

Every caterpillar is destined to become a moth, assuming it survives the many trials and tribulations of the larval state and manages to make with the metamorphosis inside its cocoon. For Jewel Caterpillars, this stage of life remains wrapped in mystery. Until science shows us otherwise, we’ll have to imagine Dalceridae larvae weave cocoons similar to the Urodus (possibly) moth’s gorgeous golden basket above.

Everyone knows the story of the ugly caterpillar reborn as a beautiful butterfly, and while moths are often lacking in the beauty department Acraga Coa doesn’t disappoint. Not only is the moth Painted a warm, rich shade of orange, it’s festooned with fluffy tufts worthy of the Westminster Dog Show’s prettiest poodle.

(images via: Trasnyy’s Journal and What’s That Bug?)

Glutinous gooey gel and fluffy filamentary fur – polar opposites to be sure but the exquisite Jewel Caterpillar manages to transform one into the other without even the most minor of missteps. It’s just one more example of Nature’s wonder, honed to perfection over many millions of years of evolution with, perhaps, millions of years of further refinement to look forward to!