Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hawk Moth Caterpillar.
Butterflies and moths undergo major developmental changes during their growth. The butterfly lay eggs, which hatch into creeping forms with chewing mouthparts. These are called as caterpillars or larvae. Incidentally, the word caterpillar is derived from two Latin words, catta pilosa, meaning hairy cat, which is quite descriptive of some kinds. During this stage the butterfly feeds and grows. It is only during the larval stage, that actual growth occurs, and a caterpillar’s only aim in life is to feed and store up food.
In and around Mumbai we can able to see around 16/17 varieties of Hawk Moths. Hawk Moths are large size moths. They have the strong and aerodynamic-shaped body. Their forewings are narrow and long with smaller hind wings. They are very good flyer. They can fly very fast, fly long distance and fly backward. They can hover in flight to sip nectar from flowers using their long tongue. When at rest, they hold their wings on body like a tent.
Mature Hawk Moth Caterpillars are usually stout, with cylindrical hairless body and small head. They usually have a prominent tapering horn on their last segment. They have strong prolegs on 3, 4, 5, and 6 segments. Their anal prolegs are strong as well. The Caterpillars are often brightly coloured, with diagonal stripes and eyespots. They pupate in the soil or within plants litter near their foodplants. Due to the eyespots and stripes the overall look is quite frightening and many predators ignored them. Although most caterpillars feed on leaves, there are strict preferences for specific host plants. These strict preferences are dictated by the chemical composition of the plant parts that the caterpillar eats. Therefore, the caterpillar feeding on a particular plant species or set of species will not eat leaves of other species. Some caterpillars may prefer slightly mature leaves, some may refuse to eat anything other than tender ones; most prefer to tender leaves but otherwise eat whichever are available on the plants where their mothers as eggs place them.
Yuwaraj Gurjar.

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