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Look, Don't Touch. The Spiny, Bright & Venomous Caterpillars of Peru

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in Caterpillars, Insects, Donald Trump

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When you think of a caterpillar, your mind usually turns to an image of a plump little grub-like insect with stubby legs, happily munching away on a leaf. But caterpillars in the jungle don't mess around. Surrounded by predatory spiders, ants, birds and lizards, it's a wonder how any caterpillar reaches its final butterfly or moth form.

While many caterpillars remain remarkably cryptic, blending in with their environment, some take the opposite approach. Evolution has carved out warrior-like caterpillars that don spiny armor plastered in bright warning colors. To pack on an extra punch, many of these caterpillars harbor venom-tipped spines that will leave the attacker, or unfortunate human, with a painful skin rash and in some caseseven death.

I'm always fascinated yet cautious when I encounter these caterpillars in the wild, so here are some of the coolest looking Lepidoptera larvae I've encountered trekking through the Peruvian Amazon.

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Purple “Donald Trump” Caterpillar Spotted at the Tambopata Research Center

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 2, 2015 12:00:00 AM / by Aaron Pomerantz posted in caterpillar, Donald Trump, Donald trump caterpillar

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It’s not something your cat coughed up. And no, it’s not really Donald Trump’s hair. It’s actually a caterpillar that sports a toupée of highly toxic venom-tipped spines. Also known as the puss caterpillar or flannel moth, this neotropical species belongs to the family Megalopygidae. Jeff and Phil reported on an interesting yellow larva a couple of years ago near the Posada Amazonas Lodge. We spotted this furry purple beauty in December 2014 near the Tambopata Research Center on a day hike and had to stop for a mini photo shoot.

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