Arthropods

Arthropods

Caterpillar mimics snake

Papilionidae caterpillar snake mimic khao yai

In the world of Lepidoptera some species of the Sphingidae family of moths and of the Papilionidae family of butterflies are known for snake mimicry in the later caterpillar instars. Viewed from a head on angle some species look dramatically

like snakes to our eyes and some, such as the Sphingidae Hemeroplanes sp., have even been documented to supposedly mimic snake behaviour as well.

I had never seen one in the forest before, but on a day trip to Khao Yai National Park a week ago I was lucky enough to have my first encounter with a 5th instar Papilionidae caterpillar. This is a big caterpillar of about 70 mm length and at first galnce the mimicry was not apparant but when you get down low and look at it head on .............

 

Papilionidae caterpillar snake mimic khao yai

Papilionidae caterpillar apparently mimics a snake

 

Papilionidae caterpillar snake mimic khao yai

From the side the snake mimicry is less apparent

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