Not as cute as Hello kitty but this caterpillar do has its own charm
Taken at night in Singapore forest.
Caterpillars have soft bodies that can grow rapidly between moults. Only the head capsule is hardened. The mandibles are tough and sharp for chewing leaves (this contrasts with most adult Lepidoptera, which have highly reduced or soft mandibles). Behind the mandibles of the caterpillar are the spinnerets, for manipulating silk.
Some larvae of the Hymenoptera order (ants, bees and wasps) can appear like the caterpillars of the lepidoptera. Such larvae are mainly seen in the sawfly family. However while these larvae superficially resemble caterpillars, they can be distinguished by the presence of prolegs on every abdominal segment, an absence of crochets or hooks on the prolegs (these are present on lepidopteran caterpillars), prominent ocelli on the head capsule, and an absence of the upside-down Y-shaped suture on the front of the head.
Caterpillars can be confused with the larvae of sawflies (see image on right). Lepidopteran larvae can be differentiated by:
- the numbers of pairs of pro-legs; sawfly larvae have 6 while caterpillars have up to 5 pairs.
- the number of stemmata (simple eyes); the sawfly larvae have only two, while a caterpillar has six.
- the presence of crochets on the prolegs; these are absent in the Symphyta (sawflies).