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. In the third quarter of 2003 Sun discountinued their Cobalt line in favor of the AMD based Sun Fire line. Other carnivorous species of caterpillars are also known, but still represent a tiny fraction of all known representatives of these insect larvae. Previously known as Cobalt Systems, this Internet appliance company was acquired by Sun in 2000. [...] It is the first time that caterpillars that eat snails or any other mollusk have been found." July 22, 2005. Cobalt was also the name of Sun Microsystems' mainly rack-mounted, Intel and Linux based, server appliance line. "Tiny, snail-eating caterpillars found in Hawaiian rain forests tie up their prey with sticky silk and snack on them at leisure. This process is referred to as irradiation.

The include the Small White butterfly (brassicas), the Pine Butterfly, and the Codling Moth (apples). Nevertheless, the gamma radiation emitted from cobalt-60 is used to kill bacteria on fruit and vegetables thus increasing their shelf life. Some caterpillars are considered serious pests of agriculture or forestry. The risk in the absence of a nuclear war comes from improper handling (or theft) of medical radiotherapeutic units. Recent findings have shown that they communicate with their ant protectors by means of vibrations as well as chemical means. Some nuclear weapon designs could intentionally increase the amount of Cobalt-60 dispersed as nuclear fallout – this is sometimes called a dirty bomb or cobalt bomb, once predicted by a leading scientist as being capable of wiping out all life on earth. The Lycaenid butterflies are particularly well known. Cobalt-60 is a risk factor in a nuclear confrontation because neutron emissions will convert iron into this isotope.

Some caterpillars obtain protection by associating themselves with ants. Ingestion of 60Co will lead to incorporation of some cobalt into tissues, which is released very slowly. 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. Cobalt-60 is a powerful gamma ray emitter and exposure to 60Co is therefore a cancer risk. This mechanism is not found in any vertebrates. Cobalt compounds should be handled with care due to cobalt's slight toxicity. 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. Powdered cobalt in metal form is a fire hazard.

For instance, a tobacco hornworm will increase its own weight ten thousand times in less than twenty days. The primary decay products before 59Co are element 26 (iron) isotopes and the primary products after are element 28 (nickel) isotopes. They have the fastest growth rate of any animal in the world. The primary decay mode before the most abundant stable isotope, 59Co, is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta decay. Caterpillars have rightfully been called eating machines. The isotopes of cobalt range in atomic weight from 50 amu (50Co) to 73 amu (73Co). These toxic species, such as the Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillars, are brightly striped or coloured in red and yellow - the 'danger' colours. This element also has 4 meta states, all of which have half lives less than 15 minutes.

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. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lifes that are less than 18 hours and the majority of these have half lives that are less than 1 second. Some caterpillars eat the leaves of plants that are toxic to other animals. 22 radioisotopes have been characterized with the most stable being 60Co with a half-life of 5.2714 years, 57-Co (57Co) with a half-life of 271.79 days, and 56-Co (56Co) with a half-life of 77.27 days, and 58-Co (58Co) with a half life of 70.86 days. However, some birds, like cuckoos, will swallow the hairiest of caterpillars. Naturally occurring cobalt is composed of 1 stable isotope, 59-Co (59Co). 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. Oxides are antiferromagnetic at low temperature CoO (Neel temperature: 291 K) and Co3O4 (Neel temperature: 40 K).

More aggressive self-defence measures are taken by the spitfires and hairy caterpillars. Due to the various oxidation states, there is an abundant number of compounds. Others have a body coloration that closely resembles their food plant. It is also produced in the town of Cobalt, Ontario as a byproduct of the silver mining. 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. It is also found in Finland, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Some caterpillars have large 'false eyes' towards the rear of their abdomen. The world's major producers of cobalt are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainland China, Zambia, Russia and Australia.

These methods can be either passive, aggressive, or both. The main ores of cobalt are cobaltite, erythrite, glaucodot, and skutterudite. 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. Cobalt is usually not mined alone, and tends to be produced as a by-product of nickel and copper mining activities. They rely on their antennae to help them locate food. Cobalt is not found as a free metal and is generally found in the form of ores. Rather than having fully-developed eyes they have a series of six tiny eyelets or 'ocelli' on the lower portion of their head. Cobalt is a central component of the vitamin cobalamin, or vitamin B-12.

Caterpillars do not have very good eyesight or senses. Having 0.13 to 0.30 mg/kg of cobalt in soils markedly improves the health of grazing animals. These tubules are called 'spiracles', and inside the body they connect together into a network of airtubes or 'tracheae'. Cobalt in small amounts is essential to many living organisms, including humans. Air enters their bodies through a series of small tubules along the sides of their thorax and abdomen. Some also think the name may derive from Greek kobalos, which means 'mine', and which may have common roots with kobold, goblin, and cobalt. Caterpillars do not breathe through their mouths. Other sources cite the origin as stemming from silver miners' belief that cobalt had been placed by kobolds who had stolen the silver.

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). The word cobalt comes from the German kobalt or kobold, meaning evil spirit, the metal being so called by miners, because it was poisonous and troublesome (it polluted and degraded the other mined elements, like nickel). 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. In 1938, John Livingood and Glenn Seaborg discovered cobalt-60. Another difference is that lepidopteran caterpillars have crochets or hooks on the prolegs. During the 19th century, cobalt blue was produced at the Norwegian Blaafarveværket (70-80 % of world production), led by the Prussian industrialist Benjamin Wegner. 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. He was able to show that cobalt was the source of the blue color in glasses, which previously had been attributed to the bismuth found with cobalt.

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 date of discovery varies depending on the source, but is between 1730 and 1737. They eat leaves voraciously, grow rapidly, shed their skins generally four or five times, and eventually pupate into an adult form. George Brandt (1694-1768) is credited with the discovery of cobalt. Caterpillars have long segmented bodies and many sets of "legs". Cobalt was known in ancient times through its compounds, which would color glass a rich blue. A caterpillar is the larval form of a lepidopteran (a member of the insect order comprising butterflies and moths). The second machine is out beside the walkway into the Centre.

Caterpillar is a song by the live electronica band The Disco Biscuits [1]. In fact the first machine is on display in the Saskatoon Cancer Centre – look up when entering the lobby. Music

    . The first 60Co therapy machine (the "cobalt bomb") was built and first used in Canada. The Screamapillar in The Simpsons. The 60Co source is useful for about 5 years but even after this point is still very radioactive, and so cobalt machines have fallen from favor in the Western world where linacs are common. Arthur in Willo the Wisp. The metal has the unfortunate habit of producing a fine dust, causing problems with radiation protection.

    TV series

      . The 60Co source is about 2 cm in diameter and as a result produces a geometric penumbra, making the edge of the radiation field fuzzy. Inch worm by Frank Loesser, (from the motion picture Hans Christian Andersen). It produces two gamma rays with energies of 1.17 MeV and 1.33 MeV. Popular song
        . Cobalt-60 (Co-60 or 60Co) is a radioactive metal that is used in radiotherapy. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, 1969, Eric Carle. Co-60 is useful as a gamma ray source partially because it can be produced - in known quantity, and very large amounts - by simply exposing natural cobalt to neutrons in a reactor for a given time.

        Hookah-smoking caterpillar: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Common oxidation states of cobalt include +2, and +3, though +1 is also seen. Children's stories

          . Metallic cobalt commonly presents a mixture of two crystallographic structures hcp and fcc with a transition temperature hcp→fcc of 722 K. Cobalt has a relative permeability two thirds that of iron. Cobalt-60, an artificially produced radioactive isotope of cobalt, is an important radioactive tracer and cancer-treatment agent.

          Mammals require small amounts of cobalt salts. It is frequently associated with nickel, and both are characteristic ingredients of meteoric iron. The Curie temperature is of 1388 K with 1.6~1.7 Bohr magnetons per atom. Cobalt is a hard ferromagnetic silver-white element.

          . Cobalt is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Co and atomic number 27. London celebrates 50 years of Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy. WebElements.com – Cobalt.

          National Pollutant Inventory - Cobalt fact sheet. Cobalt is the name of a current line of cars from Chevrolet. Los Alamos National Laboratory - Cobalt. It is used in industrial radiography to detect structural flaws in metal parts.

          It is used in radiation treatment of foods for sterilization (cold pasteurization). It is used in radiotherapy. Cobalt-60 has multiple uses as a gamma ray source:

            . Steel-belted radial tires.

            Battery electrodes. Pigments (cobalt blue and cobalt green). Ground coats for porcelain enamels. Drying agents for paints, varnishes, and inks.

            electroplating because of its appearance, hardness, and resistance to oxidation. Catalysts for the petroleum and chemical industries. Alnico magnets. Magnets and magnetic recording media.

              .

              Cemented carbides (also called hard metals) and diamond tools. High-speed steels. Corrosion- and wear-resistant alloys. Superalloys, for parts in gas turbine aircraft engines.

              Alloys, such as:

                .

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