Subject: What is it?
Location: Yucatán,Chichén Itzá
October 11, 2012 12:35 pm
What is it?
According to the old adage, there is safety in numbers, and some caterpillars form large aggregations to ensure survival. These are Ruby Spotted Swallowtail Caterpillars, Papilio (=Heraclides) anchisiades idaeus. Jim Conrad’s Naturalist Newsletter has an excellent description of this phenomenon that includes: “Why might caterpillars aggregate in this fashion? Several reasons can be thought of, including being part of a collective or cooperative foraging behavior, and thermoregulation, but in this case I’d guess that aggregation mainly serves for group defense against predators and parasites. The number of caterpillars might dissuade some predators, and the pattern created by the massed bodies might confuse others.” The adult Ruby Spotted Swallowtail is a lovely black butterfly with red or magenta spots.
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