Mar 24, 2010

Intrepid Caterpillars

Scientists have discovered at least 12 species of moths whose caterpillars spend weeks at a time underwater. And no one knows how they do it.

The caterpillars don't have gills, and they don't have anything to cover their tracheae to stop them from drowning. When placed in still water they do drown, so they must need the oxygen rich waters of their fast-running streams. And so they bob along in the water, tethered by strands of silk as they cruise around for algae.

I wonder who that caterpillar was who first saw that scrap of algae just out of reach beneath the water's surface and decided to go in after it. I want to shake his hand. I respect any creature who will go to such lengths for a good meal.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

Photo source: University of Hawaii via LA Times

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