WALNUT CATERPILLAR.BHUNTAR, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.

Natural spectacles to keep an eye out for.

Why take that long road alone, when you can have fun playing choo choo train with your siblings along the way? Lepidopterans, like the Walnut moth caterpillar in the photo, are known to do this instinctively. During their larval stage, they divide their time between moulting, a process that lets them gradually transform in stages into moths, and feeding on foliage typically a good distance away from their nests.

But instead of arriving at the rendezvous point in their own sweet time and in their own sweet way, the close knit siblings queue up in dozens then meander over trees, leaves and soil similar to a long train coursing its way through the countryside, entomologists have come to define as processionary motion. Once a moth, the walnut caterpillar is an important agent of pollination, in its juvenile larval stage its a pest no farmer likes to see near his farm thanks to it insatiable appetite to gorge anything green its mandibles can tear into.

Keep an eye out for this spectacle of nature on your next outdoor excursion and watch out for those white spiky hair that is the caterpillar’s primary defense against predators. While this one might leave you with a mild skin irritation, its other relatives can inflict some serious damage.

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