When Very Hungry Caterpillars go bad

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11 Responses to “When Very Hungry Caterpillars go bad”

  1. libelle says:

    The caterpillar relies on only a single species of ant – the ‘Myrmica’ ant.

    Ah, too bad. I was going to see if I could get ahold of some of these caterpillars for the garden. But we have the ubiquitous Argentinian Supercolony, so we’re out of luck.

  2. nanuq says:

    You’d think the ants would catch on after a while. Presumably the benefits outweigh the costs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If only they could be bred or GM to live only on fire ants. But I hear they’ve begun releasing a specialized wasp for them already.

  4. jjasper says:

    Yet another communist childrens book character!

  5. yish says:

    yeah, so much for swarm intelligence!

  6. fforw says:

    @nanuq

    As with similar parasitic relationships there will be a delicate balance between those two species, i.e. there will be far more ant colonies than preying caterpillars.

    It’s similar with cleaner fishes and sabre-toothed blennies ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre-toothed_blenny ). The latter look like cleaner fishes, but are in fact taking bites of healthy tissue from the larger fishes expecting to be cleaned.

    This also only works when there are far more real cleaner fishes than fake ones.

  7. Anon says:

    The caterpillar relies on only a single species of ant – the ‘Myrmica’ ant. Obviously that lot aren’t too bright.

  8. spike55151 says:

    David Attenborough DID do a segment on this caterpillar! I can’t remember which series… Life in the Undergrowth, I think.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The remarkable thing here is not the caterpillars, but the wasps. I’m surprised that Baker didn’t check out the video in the source. It is narrated by Attenborough.

  10. m.c.marshall says:

    @spike55151: I had forgotten about that Attenborough footage, but it’s so cool I added it to the original article. Thanks for the tip!

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