Caterpillar Reuses Its Old Heads To Make A Fancy Hat

It keeps its old moulted heads attached to its body to make a one-of-a-kind headpiece.

It’s safe to say that this caterpillar is getting a headstart on a new trend. Actually, it’s more like its spearheading the recyclable fashion statement.

You’re looking at the caterpillar of the moth Uraba lugens — or the “Gum-Leaf Skeletoniser.”

Although, now it has earned the nickname “The Mad Hatterpillar” after the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Each one of these little creatures sheds its exoskeleton but then hangs onto the moulted heads so they can be stacked neatly on top of each other.

The headpiece isn’t just worn for fun either.

“The function is to protect them from predators — they use it to bat predators away,” said photographer Alan Henderson of Minibeast Wildlife, who’s based in Queensland, Australia.

“The “hat” probably boosts the caterpillars’ survival chances, by prolonging how long it takes predators to get a clear shot.”

The caterpillar moults up to 13 times before it blossoms into a moth, and, as you can see, the heads get slightly bigger each time. If you want to see one of these fashionistas in person, you’ll need to check them out in Australia and New Zealand.

Matt Sterner

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