by Santosh Rajus – Right before the pre-monsoon shower, I was walking towards the field station and started hearing sounds like there was a heavy rain approaching. Every step I took, the rain was getting closer and closer but I could not see any rain. What was it? It was raining poop: caterpillar poop. The entire tree was filled with caterpillars and they were feeding crazily on the leaves like they were on a mission to finish the tree and leave before the monsoon arrives. Even the plants below the trees were infested.
One thing that caught my attention, there were no birds or reptiles feeding on this huge group of caterpillars which were right out in the open. Perhaps the caterpillar smelled or tasted bad :).
On observing closer, I found that this caterpillar has its own physical defense mechanism. One, the caterpillar pushes itself with force jumping off in the air and escaping by dropping off from the bushes. Secondly, the caterpillar fights with its lower body by swinging it in action from left to right in really quick movements. I observed this behavior while touching the caterpillar with a stick or when another caterpillar came close to it when it was feeding. The movement was so fast that the other caterpillar got thrown into the air. I have never seen a caterpillar move so fast and I had to look at it again to see what it was doing!
Insects keep fascinating me! They play a key role in our ecosystem, so next time when you spot one take some time to see what they are up to. Happy watching the crazy caterpillar video. Click here to watch the full video.