Killer Caterpillar!

During the summer months we often have Hercules Moths and caterpillars on display.

These Moths from the Saturniidae family are a local favourite as they are one of the largest moths in the world and the caterpillars are HUGE – up to 14.5 cm in length and weighing up to 45 grams (and pretty cute too!)

But did you know that one of its relatives is a Killer?

The most dangerous caterpillar in the world is the Assassin or  Lonomia obliqua, also from the Saturniidae family. They are responsible for several deaths per year.

These caterpillars are found in the rainforests of southern Brazil and can be very hard to spot, even if you are looking for them, as they blend in beautifully with the bark of local trees. Usually found in groups, when static they will be in a circle with their heads pointing outwards and when disturbed they will move in a line.

They are covered in spear-like bristles full of a powerful anti-coagulant venom, and even just brushing against one can cause vomiting, internal bleeding and haemolysis (rupture of the red blood cells). Touching more than one, which is quite common, results in massive internal haemorrhaging, renal failure and death.

Fortunately, they are only found in the hotter months, and on a different continent!

Thanks to the following for photos and information, and to Butterfly Guide Juliette for this great post!