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‘You look more beautiful when you’re angry’…

March 15, 2013


… is a great line used in Hollywood movies. It never fails to disarm a tense situation between feuding parties. Personally when I have used the line it has had quite the opposite effect. The statement is true, though, for a number of caterpillars of the Limacodidae family.

A recent post (click HERE to view) highlighted some of the amazingly intricate caterpillars cruising our district. After a recent storm I noticed many Four Spotted Cup Moth caterpillars (Doratifera quadriguttata) (from

More beautiful

More beautiful

the Latin quadri = four, gutta = spot) munching on eucalyptus leaves at ground level. They no doubt were knocked off their aerial cafeterias by the strong winds. The picture above shows the caterpillar when it is undisturbed. If however the caterpillar feels threatened, four knobs swell on its back and from these, red spikes protrude (pictured right). Other species of the Doratifera genus have up to eight of these knobs. The spikes are tubular structures containing irritant chemicals. Brushing against the spikes breaks them, releasing the chemicals which can cause skin irritations and rashes.

Look, no legs

Look, no legs

It just proves what I have learned. It doesn’t matter how beautiful something is, if it’s angry, don’t touch.

P.S. The legs of this caterpillar are almost non-existent (see picture left) and they use their under-bodies to move, much the way a slug does.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 15, 2013 12:33 pm

    Great photos. With this species, the caterpillar is certainly more beautiful (& angry) than the adult moth. The ‘four spots’ refers to dark spots on the wings of adult moths, in case anyone was wondering, have a look here –

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