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Monstrous “inchworms” of the Hawaiian rainforest

July 13, 2014

The innocent-looking native caterpillar isn’t as benign as it might seem. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

This little creature is not a worm at all, but rather a voraciously carnivorous Hawaiian caterpillar of the genus Eupithecia. It was spotted by Ranger Travis in the rainforest near Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park earlier this week, and is a stunning example of Hawai‘i’s spectacular biodiversity!

According to scientists, these meat-eating caterpillars are unique to Hawai‘i and are very likely the only carnivorous caterpillars in the world. They wait motionlessly for hours until an unsuspecting insect brushes the tiny hairs on its lower backside. In less than a tenth of a second, the carnivorous caterpillar opens its meat hooks, swings around and slams them shut on its prey. After flaying its impaled victim for a brief second, he sinks his fangs into its head and begins his grisly dinner.


The carnivorous caterpillar bares its fangs! NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

Dare to see how they feed? Check out this video posted on the NatGeo Wild YouTube Channel:

And check out this article in Ecology, re-blogged by M.L. Henneman on Bioblog by Biotunes, for more images and another cool-but-creepy video:

As Ranger Travis says, if these things were 10 feet tall, nobody would go into the Hawaiian rainforest again!

The hungry predator ready to strike. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson

The hungry predator ready to strike. NPS Photo/Jay Robinson


2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2014 3:48 am

    Thanks for This Info.Keep up the good work out there.Tell General Sinski;You Did Fine.


  1. Monday Creature Feature: from “Monster” to Marvelous Moth | Pacific Island National Parks

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