Common Name: Caterpillars

Type: Insects

Family: Lepidoptera

Range: Worldwide

Size: 30-60mm (1-2 inches)

Diet: Caterpillars are Herbivore. The most of caterpillars are herbivores, and eat usually leaves, though some species eat plant parts, fungi and dead animal material, including other caterpillars.

Average life span: Three weeks

Habitat: Caterpillars are available almost everywhere from sandy beaches to meadows to mountain forests throughout the world. There are even caterpillars in some Arctic areas also.

Color: It can be found in many colors, like Green, Yellow, Orange, Black, Red, White, Blue and brown.

Breeding/Reproduction/ Clutch: Eggs (0.8 mm) shiny, honey-brown surface

Special Features: Long body shape and fleshy horns

Number of species: Around 21,000

Related Animals: Butterfly and Moth

Caterpillars are the larval phase of the Lepidoptera family which is basically consists of butterflies and moths. They were tagged as the immature stage of various insects. They got their name from the Middle English “catirpel” or “catirpeller” which means from Latin Cattus (cat) and Pilosus (hairy). On this stage, the caterpillar will spend most of its time eating and one caterpillar can grow with an average of 30,000 times in anticipation for pupating. They can consume lots of food before going to its papal stage. Caterpillars have this adaptation to eating so much since its body is packed with intestines that digest its food quickly. And they have this capability to quickly transport ion to their midget cavity to maintain the potassium level much higher than in the blood system to fuel its papal stage. And then when their exoskeleton becomes cramped they resort into shedding their old exoskeleton. This was due to their Ecdysone hormone that makes the insects has the ability to molt. So after they shed, their new skin is still soft so for them to stretch again they will swallow lots of air. But when their cuticle becomes hard that is the time they will allow the air to go out to make room for more growth. Caterpillars molts in an average of five times as they grow. Each stage of molting is called an instar.

The caterpillar has a soft body composed of its head where it was noted that caterpillars has six pairs of eyes called ocelli. Then there is their thorax region where there are three pairs of jointed legs with hooks for them to hold onto its food. Then their abdomen where you can find their prolegs that usually composed of five pairs of stumpy legs that make them climb. Most of the species of caterpillars are herbivorous which makes plants and leave their staple. But some feeds on eggs of insects, ant larvae, aphids and scaled insects. Others eat snails using their traps made of silk. But other kinds of caterpillar are considered cannibals since they also prey on other caterpillars.

Caterpillars are equipped with sharp and strong mandible so that they can chew their food quickly. Behind that mandibles are spinnerets that aid them to create silk for cocoons.

Costa Rica is famous for having over 100,000 species of insects and one can easily testify by seeing various types in our house at the start of rainy season in May. It is possible that you could possibly discover a different insect every day of your life in Costa Rica. Living with bugs is part of the way of life in this country, so it is probably best to learn to love and appreciate them. In the Montezuma and Malpais area, you will find fewer species and quantity of insects than the lusher rainforests and cloud forests of other parts of Costa Rica because of the dry season (Nov-April).

There are several different types of Caterpillars in Pavones, Costa Rica. However, one can find hundreds of different type of caterpillar throughout the tropical Costa Rica.

Caterpillars are soft bodied and tent to have slow locomotion. These traits makes them easier target for predators. Each of their species has their own defense mechanism to threat. Some caterpillars have eyespots that make their predator thinks they are eyes of some dangerous animals like a snake. Other species belch bad smells to repel predators. Some will hide themselves to leaves. They will use their silk to encase themselves inside a folded leaf. Other has the color to blend themselves on their surroundings. Most of that kind has green color to hide themselves in plants and leaves. Another species of caterpillars has a look that makes them look inedible. Some look likes bird droppings or twigs. Others has bright in colors but poisonous and some shoots acids to remind the predators about their toxicity. Another species has organs attached to the edge of their body which looks like a whip. They wiggle themselves to frightened predators. Most caterpillars have spikes or bristles that can irritate when lodged in the skin.

Threats to caterpillars are animals that eat them since it is a rich source of protein. Another thing is that humans tend to exterminate those using pesticides since caterpillars eats and destroys their crops. Other used caterpillars in silk production.

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