Earlier this year I came across this fascinating sighting of a procession of hairy caterpillars. What appeared as a thin stick lying across the road turned out to be a plethora of neatly organised hairy caterpillars each following one another in an exceptionally long line. Tracing the beginning of the procession to the end turned into an impossible task as the line snaked through grass, in between rocks and eventually into dense bush. In total it was over 20 meters in length that was measured.
Interestingly the snaking line of these creatures provides one of the most plausible explanations as to this behaviour. Discussions with rangers, trackers and online resources indicate that these long lines of caterpillars are formed to mimic the shape of a large snake and hence deter predators from picking them off individually.
Other explanations around these creatures come from La Trobe university:
“The larval stage of the bag shelter moth is a woolly caterpillar and their hirsute appearance plays an important role in their unusual behaviour. When they emerge to feed, they form a procession, creeping along nose to tail in a colossal caterpillar conga-line.” – Dr Paul Willis
As always, there are no rules in nature and I am interested to hear if any of you have other explanations or, better yet, have experienced this fascinating event before? Leave your thoughts and answers in the comments section below…
Filmed by: Rich Laburn