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Chalcosiine Day-Flying Moth Caterpillar

Posted by
itchydogimages (Pu'er, China) on 22 December 2012 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

(Cyclosia sp., Zygaenidae)
Both caterpillars and moths of the Zygaenidae family are stunningly beautiful. As with most things in nature, beauty (bright colors which are appealing to us but are in nature are glaring warning signs) is synonymous with danger. From Wikipedia, "The bright colours are a warning to predators that the moths are distasteful – they contain hydrogen cyanide throughout all stages of their life-cycle. Unlike most insects with such toxins, they manufacture these themselves rather than obtaining them from host plants. They are known to have mimicry complexes based on these toxins" and “Larvae in two subfamilies, Chalcosiinae and Zygaeninae, have cavities in which they store the cyanide, and can excrete it as defensive droplets.”
So armed with this knowledge, I draw your attention to the droplets of liquid excreted from the tubercles on this caterpillar when I disturbed it to photograph it. The moral of this story? Don't lick caterpillars.
Pu'er, Yunnan, China

SONY DSC-R1 1/200 second F/16.0 ISO 160 61 mm

For an overload of my Chinese insect and spider images, and non-organic subjects from China, check on my Flickr photostream at

Tataze from Bourgogne, France

Fantastic macro, wonferdul colors

22 Dec 2012 10:05am

Lai Chan See from Singapore, Singapore

Never seen such a pretty caterpillar. Many thanks.

22 Dec 2012 10:11am

L'angevine from Angers, France

superbe approche

22 Dec 2012 10:40am

☺ ► ƸɼiϾ ◄ ☼ from Narbonne, France

great caterpillar, thanks 4 sharing

22 Dec 2012 7:15pm

SharonPleasants from Monroe, Louisiana, United States

This creature looks to be of royalty!

22 Dec 2012 8:30pm

aaanouel from Heredia, Costa Rica

Ha! Too interesting explanation and great capture.
Txs a lot John 4sharing

23 Dec 2012 3:59am

1/200 second
ISO 160
61 mm