BIO 203

Adaptation For Life

    The giant moth caterpillar has a brownish-green color which is seen on the bristles along its body (Carrijo-Carvalho and Chudzinski-Tavassi 2007). The Used with Permission. All rights reserved.color allows for camouflage in the trees that it likes to live in. The color blends in very well with the leaves on guava trees, fig trees, and yellow plum trees in which the larva enjoy to live on and are often found on (Veiga et al. 2001 ). As the L. obliqua is in its larva state, the necessity to stay protected from possible predators is very important. They have not yet reached full adulthood so if the larva were to die before they change into a moth their survival rate would be very low. We know that they do not have a population number problems due to the migration. Also large populations of the larva are found in rural area in Southern Brazil so the camouflage must be a benefit to the L. obliqua (Schmitberger et al. 2013).

Bristle size:
    L. obliqua has various sized bristles all over its body. That can help toUsed with Permission protect the larva from all different size of predators. If there was a army ant trying to attack the caterpillar, the long bristles may not protect the larva, but the short ones may have a chance at harming them. For the bigger animals, the longer bristles would be able to protect the caterpillar from monkeys or most other animals. With the whole combination of bristles, birds may be able to get around the long and short ones but in some way the odds that a bird would get stung with the bristles would be high (Carrijo-Carvalho and Chudzinski-Tavassi 2007).

Chitin rich bristles:
    The bristles are made up of a layer of chitin on the outside of each bristle. Other arthropods also have chitin like the bombardier beetle and the pill bug. The base of the bristle which is attached to the body of the caterpillar is much thinner than the tip of the bristle. Since the base is not as thick, it can break off more easily and release the venom to the victim. Chitin is the perfect fit for these bristles because it is fragile when the caterpillar needs it to be and strong for the times it needs extra protection (Veiga et al. 2001 andCarrijo-Carvalho and Chudzinski-Tavassi 2007).
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Hollow bristles:
    The bristles on the caterpillar are hollow to allow the venom to be stored. When the bristles are brushed up against the tip can penetrate the skin of whatever has After breaking off, the venom can be transferred from the caterpillar to the victim without harming the caterpillar (Veiga et al. 2001). Also by having the bristles hollow, the ability for them to become longer is easier, which then allows the caterpillar to look bigger than it really is and can be used as a defense mechanism. That is important because when they look larger than they really are the ability to ward off predators that may try to eat them greatly decreases (Carrijo-Carvalho and Chudzinski-Tavassi 2007).

    The L. obliqua has a very strong poison that can be ejected into a victim by just touching the caterpillar. The poison can do a lot of damage to any organism that it may come in contact with (Schmitberger et al. 2013). You can learn more about the venom that this very special caterpillar has by looking at the next page about venom.