Wacky Pest Wednesday: Caterpillars

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Happy Wednesday, Tri-County Pest Control fans, and welcome to our latest edition of Wacky Pest Wednesday!  Today, we invite you to join us as we go over some fun and crazy facts that makes the caterpillar a wacky critter!

Caterpillars are more-so a name than a certain type of critter, as thousands of different animals can be called a “caterpillar” at some point in time.  The name is just a descriptor for an insect that’s in its larval stage, which is right before they make their cocoon and turn into something completely different on the other side.  These future moths and butterflies need all the nutrients they can handle to prepare them for their transformation, and as such they are voracious eaters, chowing down on all sorts of plants during their time on the ground.  Some caterpillars are even known to eat other insects or other caterpillars but rest assured that no caterpillar will have the moxie to take a chomp out of you.  

Yet despite their size, caterpillars are by no means weak or defenseless.  Many caterpillars have some overt ways to defend themselves should a potential predator—like a bird—make an attempt on then.  For example, swallowtail caterpillars will secrete an orange goo behind their head when threatened, which produces a pretty foul odor which will keep plenty of people away, let alone other bugs.  Others have, like those in the Lonomia genus, sharp spines and bristles lining their entire body, which are tipped with a venom produced by the caterpillar. That way they can teach predators the hard way that they are not savory snack.  If you know someone who was stung by a caterpillar, they most likely came into contact with one of these hairs, which is why you should do your best to leave caterpillars alone if they have hairs or spines.

Other caterpillars have more covert ways of defending themselves.  Many rely on camouflage to keep themselves out of sight of potential predators, blending in with their surroundings the best they can.  Others, no joke, taste horrible. This teaches the predator to not eat other caterpillars of the same variety, making it a pretty good defense mechanism for the whole group at large.

Caterpillars have a lot of interesting and unique characteristics to them, and we encourage you to learn more about these fascinating critters.  Yet on the whole, they pose almost no physical threat to you and your family so long as you keep your distance. Should you see one in your home, just move it outside, preferably by putting a piece of paper around the critter, letting them crawl onto it, and then moving the whole thing outside.  So long as you keep your hands away, you should have no worries.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

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