CATERPILLAR OF THE WEEK: A leading candidate for "strangest in show," introducing Harrisimemna trisignata - the Harris's Three-spot caterpillar.
The Harris's Three-spot caterpillar is one of the very weirdest. From behind it resembles an alert jumping spider, actually raising its rear legs like waiting fangs when prodded. From the side it may be easily overlooked as just dirt and old cobwebs, or perhaps a bird dropping. But the front end presents the most unique of this caterpillar's tricks. The three-spot actually keeps its old discarded head capsules after it sheds its skin and wears them as a towering series of hats. Get too close to this bizarre conglomeration of defensive adaptations and you can expect to get a harsh thrashing as the caterpillar whips its baton-like caps back and forth with surprising rapidity.
It is a rare treat for us to rear the Harris's Three-spot at The Caterpillar Lab. This year we were lucky enough to obtain multiple batches of eggs and we are looking forward to bringing our little "weirdos" out to meet the public. They are quick to grow and will soon disappear into rotting wood to pupate, but keep an eye on The Caterpillar Lab Facebook page for more videos and photographs of them before they are gone for the year.
- Samuel Jaffe
"Caterpillar of the week" will highlight a different species we grow in "The Caterpillar Lab" each week. We hope you will enjoy meeting the caterpillars of New England!
More information on Harrisimemna trisignata on bugguide here:http://bugguide.net/node/view/415