Hawaiian Killer Caterpillar’s Lightning-Fast Strike

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This caterpillar has a lightning-fast attack. Don’t blink – you just might miss it!

Isolated from the rest of the world, Hawaii is home to a variety of animals not seen anywhere else. However, the most fascinating of these unique Hawaiian creatures are the carnivorous caterpillars. These caterpillars are larval stages of moths in the genus Eupithecia.

The adult stage seems innocent enough, feeding on flowers and seeds like any other normal adult moth or butterfly. Have a look at one in the photo below. Seems no different than your average moth, right?

Eupithecia_orichloris1 - Photo by Forest & Kim Starr
An adult Eupithecia orichloris. Photo by Forest & Kim Starr.

But don’t let the adult moths fool you. 18 of the 20 native species of Hawaiian caterpillars have evolved to eat other insects, and they are effective predators. When they hunt, they often use camouflage to ambush unsuspecting fruit flies and may even cut channels into leaves to lure them within striking range.

Can you see the caterpillar disguised as a twig below?

Carnivorous Caterpillar Attack 2

Once their prey is within range and touches the sensitive hairs of the caterpillar’s body, the caterpillar strikes.

Snapping their body upwards or downwards, they grab their helpless prey. Then, they feast.

You’ll certainly never look at The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a classic children’s book by Eric Carle, the same again.

Watch these little, unexpected monsters in action in the full video below:

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