Eye-opening moths!

Saturniid moth caterpillar, Switzerland (Image: Marco Fischer)

Saturniid moth caterpillar, Switzerland (Image: Marco Fischer)

This image, by photographer Marco Fischer, caught our eye on social media last week.

You would have to agree, it doesn't look like the average caterpillar you might see ravaging your veggie garden.

The photo depicts an incredibly ornate caterpillar: the larval form of a moth from the insect family Saturniidae.

The Saturniids are found around the world, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

This rock-star specimen however, was photographed in Switzerland.

Saturniids are actually a well-photographed Family of moths.

The larval form (caterpillar) of many Saturniid species are equally as vibrant and interesting as the unidentified specimen that travelled around the world of social media last week.

Automeris melanops, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Image: Steve Hamilton)

Automeris melanops caterpillar, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Image: Steve Hamilton)

 

Automeris melanops is another species of moth from the Saturniidae Family, known for an ornate caterpillar.

Similarly, the adult Automeris melanops moth is also quite a striking specimen.

Some moths and butterflies display eye-like markings on their wings, which can be impressively life-like.

Eyespot markings on animals can potentially serve several functions.

Some moths use unique colouring and marking to protect or promote themselves

Automeris melanops adult moth (Image: ra-bugio.org.br)

Automeris melanops adult moth (Image: ra-bugio.org.br)

Eyespots may mimic the eye of a different animal, deterring potential predators.

The predator may see the moth as being inedible or potentially dangerous.

The spots may create a visual deflection, diverting the predator away from the most vulnerable part of the body.

The eyespot markings may also play a role in sexual selection and mate recognition.

Other animals have developed similar markings, such as the peacock, who is well known for its feather markings, used in communication and courtship.

 

Read another interesting facts about butterflies and moths here!

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