Caterpillar

The striking caterpillar of the Emperor Gum Moth

A caterpillar is the larval form of a lepidopteran (a member of the insect order comprising butterflies and moths).

Caterpillars have long segmented bodies and many sets of "legs". They eat leaves voraciously, grow rapidly, shed their skins generally four or five times, and eventually pupate into an adult form.

Caterpillars have six true legs (being hexapods) on the thorax, up to four pairs of prolegs on the middle segments of the abdomen, and sometimes a single pair of prolegs on the last abdominal segment. The sawfly larva (Hymenoptera) superficially resembles a caterpillar, but can usually be distinguished because the caterpillar has a gap between true legs and prolegs, whereas the sawfly does not. Another difference is that lepidopteran caterpillars have crochets or hooks on the prolegs. The gap between the prolegs and the true legs can vary from a slight gap in some species to a large gap in families such as the geometridae. The geometrids, also known as inchworms or loopers, are so named because of the way they locomote, appearing to measure the earth (the word 'geometrid' means 'earth-measurer' in Greek).

Caterpillar of the monarch butterfly

Caterpillars do not breathe through their mouths. Air enters their bodies through a series of small tubules along the sides of their thorax and abdomen. These tubules are called 'spiracles', and inside the body they connect together into a network of airtubes or 'tracheae'.

Caterpillars do not have very good eyesight or senses. Rather than having fully-developed eyes they have a series of six tiny eyelets or 'ocelli' on the lower portion of their head. They rely on their antennae to help them locate food.

Many species of birds and animals consider caterpillars to be a tasty protein snack, so the caterpillars have evolved several methods of protecting and/or camouflaging themselves. These methods can be either passive, aggressive, or both. Some caterpillars have large 'false eyes' towards the rear of their abdomen. This is an attempt to convince predators that their back is actually their front, giving them an opportunity to escape to the 'rear' when attacked. Others have a body coloration that closely resembles their food plant.

More aggressive self-defence measures are taken by the spitfires and hairy caterpillars. These caterpillars have spiny bristles or long fine hairs that will irritate anything that brushes against them, or spit acidic digestive juices at potential enemies. However, some birds, like cuckoos, will swallow the hairiest of caterpillars.

Caterpillar

Some caterpillars eat the leaves of plants that are toxic to other animals. They are unaffected by the poison themselves, but it builds up in their system, making them highly toxic to anything that eats one of them. These toxic species, such as the Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillars, are brightly striped or coloured in red and yellow - the 'danger' colours.

Caterpillars have rightfully been called eating machines. They have the fastest growth rate of any animal in the world. For instance, a tobacco hornworm will increase its own weight ten thousand times in less than twenty days. One of their adaptations that enables them to eat this much is a mechanism in a specialized midgut which transports ions at a very high rate to the lumen (midgut cavity), to keep the potassium level higher in the midgut cavity than in the blood. This mechanism is not found in any vertebrates.

The aim of all these aggressive defense measures is to assure that any predator that eats (or tries to eat) one of them will not be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

Some caterpillars obtain protection by associating themselves with ants. The Lycaenid butterflies are particularly well known. Recent findings have shown that they communicate with their ant protectors by means of vibrations as well as chemical means.

Some caterpillars are considered serious pests of agriculture or forestry. The include the Small White butterfly (brassicas), the Pine Butterfly, and the Codling Moth (apples).

"Tiny, snail-eating caterpillars found in Hawaiian rain forests tie up their prey with sticky silk and snack on them at leisure. [...] It is the first time that caterpillars that eat snails or any other mollusk have been found." July 22, 2005

Other carnivorous species of caterpillars are also known, but still represent a tiny fraction of all known representatives of these insect larvae.

Literature and art

  • Children's stories
    • Hookah-smoking caterpillar: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, 1969, Eric Carle.
  • Popular song
    • Inch worm by Frank Loesser, (from the motion picture Hans Christian Andersen)
  • TV series
    • Arthur in Willo the Wisp
    • The Screamapillar in The Simpsons
  • Music
    • Caterpillar is a song by the live electronica band The Disco Biscuits [1]

Additional photos

For a series of photographs showing caterpillar life-cycle, see Emperor Gum Moth.


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For a series of photographs showing caterpillar life-cycle, see Emperor Gum Moth. This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, a publication in the public domain.. Other carnivorous species of caterpillars are also known, but still represent a tiny fraction of all known representatives of these insect larvae. Morales asserts that "coca no es cocaína"--the coca leaf is not cocaine. [...] It is the first time that caterpillars that eat snails or any other mollusk have been found." July 22, 2005. In December 2005, Evo Morales, a former coca growers union leader, was elected President of Bolivia and promised to legalize the cultivation and traditional use of coca. "Tiny, snail-eating caterpillars found in Hawaiian rain forests tie up their prey with sticky silk and snack on them at leisure. This provision is designed to accommodate Coca-Cola and other producers of coca products.

The include the Small White butterfly (brassicas), the Pine Butterfly, and the Codling Moth (apples). Article 27 states that "The Parties may permit the use of coca leaves for the preparation of a flavouring agent, which shall not contain any alkaloids, and, to the extent necessary for such use, may permit the production, import, export, trade in and possession of such leaves". Some caterpillars are considered serious pests of agriculture or forestry. The Article 23 controls referred to in paragraph 1 are rules requiring opium-, coca-, and cannabis-cultivating nations to designate an agency to regulate said cultivation and take physical possession of the crops as soon as possible after harvest. Recent findings have shown that they communicate with their ant protectors by means of vibrations as well as chemical means. Article 26 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs states:. The Lycaenid butterflies are particularly well known. [1] In Colombia, the Paeces, a Tierradentro (Cauca) indigenous community, started in December 2005 to produce a drink called "Coca Sek." The production method belong to the resguardos of Calderas (Inzá) and takes about 150 kg of coca per 3000 produced bottles.

Some caterpillars obtain protection by associating themselves with ants. The cocaine itself does not end up in the drink nowadays, however, and is generally sold to the pharmaceutical industry where it is used for various surgical procedures. The aim of all these aggressive defense measures is to assure that any predator that eats (or tries to eat) one of them will not be in a hurry to repeat the experience. The Coca-Cola Company buys 115 tons of coca leaf from Peru and 105 tons from Bolivia per year, which it uses as an ingredient in its Coca-Cola formula (famously a trade secret). This mechanism is not found in any vertebrates. Coca is used industrially in the cosmetics and food industries. One of their adaptations that enables them to eat this much is a mechanism in a specialized midgut which transports ions at a very high rate to the lumen (midgut cavity), to keep the potassium level higher in the midgut cavity than in the blood. Several pipes taken from Shakespeare's residence and dated to the seventeenth century have shown evidence of cocaine, which was first introduced to Europe in the 16th century.

For instance, a tobacco hornworm will increase its own weight ten thousand times in less than twenty days. showed traces of cocaine (and nicotine), and these studies have been used as evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. They have the fastest growth rate of any animal in the world. to 395 A.D. Caterpillars have rightfully been called eating machines. Samples taken from nine Egyptian mummies that were dated from between 1070 B.C. These toxic species, such as the Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillars, are brightly striped or coloured in red and yellow - the 'danger' colours. Historical evidence points to a long history of coca export.

They are unaffected by the poison themselves, but it builds up in their system, making them highly toxic to anything that eats one of them. Modern export of processed coca (as cocaine) to global markets is well documented, and coca leaves are exported for coca tea, flavoring (Coca-Cola), and for medical use. Some caterpillars eat the leaves of plants that are toxic to other animals. Coca has a long history of export and use around the world. However, some birds, like cuckoos, will swallow the hairiest of caterpillars. Commercially manufactured coca teas are also available in most stores and supermarkets, including upscale suburban supermarkets. These caterpillars have spiny bristles or long fine hairs that will irritate anything that brushes against them, or spit acidic digestive juices at potential enemies. Bags of coca leaves are sold in local markets and by street vendors.

More aggressive self-defence measures are taken by the spitfires and hairy caterpillars. It also serves as a powerful symbol of indigenous cultural and religious identity, amongst a diversity of indigenous nations throughout South America. Others have a body coloration that closely resembles their food plant. Even today, chewing coca leaves is a common sight in indigenous communities across the central Andean region, particularly in places like the mountains of Bolivia, where the cultivation and consumption of coca is as much a part of the national culture as wine is to France or beer is to Germany. This is an attempt to convince predators that their back is actually their front, giving them an opportunity to escape to the 'rear' when attacked. Doing so usually causes users to feel a tingling and numbing sensation in their mouths, similar to receiving Novocain during a dental procedure. Some caterpillars have large 'false eyes' towards the rear of their abdomen. The Spanish masticar is also frequently used.

These methods can be either passive, aggressive, or both. The activity of chewing coca is called chacchar or acullicar, borrowed from Quechua, or in Bolivia, picchar, derived from the Aymara language. Many species of birds and animals consider caterpillars to be a tasty protein snack, so the caterpillars have evolved several methods of protecting and/or camouflaging themselves. This act of initiation is carefully supervised by the mama, a traditional leader. They rely on their antennae to help them locate food. When the boy is ready to be married, his mother will initiate him in the use of the coca. Rather than having fully-developed eyes they have a series of six tiny eyelets or 'ocelli' on the lower portion of their head. But it is the woman who gives man their manhood.

Caterpillars do not have very good eyesight or senses. It is important to stress that poporo is the symbol of manhood. These tubules are called 'spiracles', and inside the body they connect together into a network of airtubes or 'tracheae'. Women are prohibited of using coca. Air enters their bodies through a series of small tubules along the sides of their thorax and abdomen. For a man the poporo is a good companion which means "food" "woman", "memory" and "meditation". Caterpillars do not breathe through their mouths. The movements of the stick in the poporo symbolize the sexual act.

The geometrids, also known as inchworms or loopers, are so named because of the way they locomote, appearing to measure the earth (the word 'geometrid' means 'earth-measurer' in Greek). It represents the womb and the stick is a phallic symbol. The gap between the prolegs and the true legs can vary from a slight gap in some species to a large gap in families such as the geometridae. The poporo is the mark of manhood, but it is a female's sexual symbol. Another difference is that lepidopteran caterpillars have crochets or hooks on the prolegs. In the Sierra Nevadas de Santa Marta, on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, coca is consumed by the Kogi, Arhuaco & Wiwa by using a special gadget called poporo. The sawfly larva (Hymenoptera) superficially resembles a caterpillar, but can usually be distinguished because the caterpillar has a gap between true legs and prolegs, whereas the sawfly does not. Coca leaves are often read in a form of divination analogous to reading tea leaves in other cultures.

Caterpillars have six true legs (being hexapods) on the thorax, up to four pairs of prolegs on the middle segments of the abdomen, and sometimes a single pair of prolegs on the last abdominal segment. Coca leaves play a crucial part in offerings to the apus (mountains), Inti (the sun), or Pachamama (the earth). They eat leaves voraciously, grow rapidly, shed their skins generally four or five times, and eventually pupate into an adult form. It is believed by the miners of Cerro de Pasco to soften the veins of ore, if masticated (chewed) and thrown upon them (see also Cocomama). Caterpillars have long segmented bodies and many sets of "legs". Coca is still held in veneration among the indigenous and mestizo peoples of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and northern Argentina and Chile. A caterpillar is the larval form of a lepidopteran (a member of the insect order comprising butterflies and moths). Coca was historically employed as an offering to the Sun, or to produce smoke at the great sacrifices; and the priests, it was believed, must chew it during the performance of religious ceremonies, otherwise the gods would not be propitiated.

Caterpillar is a song by the live electronica band The Disco Biscuits [1]. Coca was also a vital part of the religious cosmology of the Andean tribes in the pre-Inca period as well as throughout the Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyu). Music

    . In testament of the significance of coca to indigenous cultures, it is widely believed that the word "coca" most likely originally simply meant "plant," in other words, coca was not just a plant but the plant. The Screamapillar in The Simpsons. Cocada can also be used as a measurement of time, meaning the amount of time it takes for a mouthful of coca to lose its flavor and activity. Arthur in Willo the Wisp. The coca plant was so central to the worldview of the Yunga and Aymara tribes of South America that distance was often measured in units called "cocada", which signified the number of mouthfuls of coca that one would chew while walking from one point to another.

    TV series

      . The perceived boost in energy and strength provided by the cocaine in coca leaves was also very functional in an area where oxygen is scarce and extensive walking is essential. Inch worm by Frank Loesser, (from the motion picture Hans Christian Andersen). It is rich in protein and vitamins, and it grows in regions where other food sources are scarce. Popular song
        . The coca leaf contained many essential nutrients in addition to its more well-known mood-altering alkaloid. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, 1969, Eric Carle. The practice of chewing coca was most likely originally a simple matter of survival.

        Hookah-smoking caterpillar: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. In some places, baking soda is used under the name bico. Children's stories

          . The most common base in the La Paz area of Bolivia is a product known as lejía dulce which is made from quinoa ashes mixed with anise and cane sugar, forming a soft black putty with a sweet and pleasing licorice flavor. Many of these materials are salty in flavor, but there are variations. Other names for this basifying substance are llipta in Peru and lejía in Bolivia.

          A tiny quantity of ilucta is chewed together with the coca leaves; it softens their astringent flavor and activates the alkaloids. They traditionally carried a woven pouch called a chuspa or huallqui in which they kept a day's supply of coca leaves, along with a small amount of ilucta or uipta, which is made from pulverized unslaked lime or from the ashes of the quinoa plant. In the Andes, the indigenous peoples have been chewing the leaves of the coca plant for millennia. Some anesthetics such as Novocaine are derived from the coca plant.

          When chewed, Coca acts as a stimulant to help ignore hunger sensations, thirst, and fatigue. Besides cocaine, the coca leaf contains a number of other alkaloids, including Methylecgonine cinnamate, Benzoylecgonine, Truxilline, Hydroxytropacocaine, Tropacocaine, Ecgonine, Cuscohygrine, Dihydrocuscohygrine, Nicotine and Hygrine. The pharmacologically active ingredient of coca is the alkaloid cocaine which is found in the amount of about 0.2% in fresh leaves. The green leaves (matu) are spread in thin layers on coarse woollen cloths and dried in the sun; they are then packed in sacks, which must be kept dry in order to preserve the quality of the leaves.

          The first and most abundant harvest is in March, after the rains; the second is at the end of June, the third in October or November. They are considered ready for plucking when they break on being bent. The leaves are gathered from plants varying in age from one and a half to upwards of forty years. The plants thrive best in hot, damp situations, such as the clearings of forests; but the leaves most preferred are obtained in drier localities, on the sides of hills.

          The seeds are sown in December and January in small plots (almacigas) sheltered from the sun, and the young plants when from 40-60 cm in height are placed in holes (aspi), or, if the ground is level, in furrows (uachos) in carefully weeded soil. Bad specimens have a camphoraceous smell and a brownish colour, and lack the pungent taste. Good samples of the dried leaves are uncurled, are of a deep green on the upper, and a grey-green on the lower surface, and have a strong tea-like odor; when chewed they produce a faint numbness in the mouth, and have a pleasant, pungent taste. Since the 1980s, the cultivation of coca has become controversial because it is used for the manufacture of the drug cocaine, which is illegal in most countries.

          Since ancient times, its leaves have been used as a stimulant by the indigenous people of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, and northern Argentina; it also has religious and symbolic significance. Coca is traditionally cultivated in the lower altitudes of the eastern slopes of the Andes. . The leaves are sometimes eaten by the moth Eloria noyesi.

          The flowers mature into red berries. The flowers are small, and disposed in little clusters on short stalks; the corolla is composed of five yellowish-white petals, the anthers are heart-shaped, and the pistil consists of three carpels united to form a three-chambered ovary. A marked characteristic of the leaf is an areolated portion bounded by two longitudinal curved lines once on each side of the midrib, and more conspicuous on the under face of the leaf. The branches are straight, and the leaves, which have a green tint, are thin, opaque, oval, more or less tapering at the extremities.

          The plant resembles a blackthorn bush, and grows to a height of 2-3 m. The plant is best-known in modern times for the drug cocaine that is manufactured from it. Under the older Cronquist system of classifying flowering plants, this was placed in an order Linales; more modern systems place it in the order Malpighiales. Coca (Erythroxylum coca), often spelled koka in Quechua and Aymara, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to northwestern South America.

          Coca tea. Huallaga Valley. Coca-Cola. Coca eradication.

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