Dancing Caterpillars

02 May

Who says I don’t do Nature Studies?!

Check these out.

We found these caterpillars at a nature reserve we visited with friends.

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The Mums and I were discussing a book we are reading and the kids were amusing themselves in the surrounding area.

Yes, you read correctly.  Their activities were completely unstructured all afternoon.

During their time, the kids found these caterpillars and delightedly came to share them with us.

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We were all impressed and fascinated.

At first we thought the caterpillars were stuck in some sort of web and then, through collective discussion and shared knowledge, we determined that the web actually belonged to the caterpillars.

The caterpillars were hairy little creatures and the children informed us to be cautious around them as they did indeed make you itchy.

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There were some great discussions surrounding our observations.

“If they’re stuck in the web, how come so many got stuck?”

“They’ve been there a while as you can see discarded skins within the web”

“Spiders mustn’t be the only animals that can spin webs”

Later investigations showed that there are indeed caterpillars who spin webs to live within them.

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But the most fascinating thing about these caterpillars was their response to sound.

They waved their bodies in seeming unison according to the sound.

Loud sounds evoked a vigorous swaying motion of their bodies and quieter sounds evoked slower movements.

So, of course, being homeschoolers, we pulled out our music laden phones and tested the responses of our caterpillars to samples of music.

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You can see the caterpillar’s responses on our video below.

(Listen to the little girl’s response to the joking request to put on some heavy metal music.  So darling!)

These caterpillars amused us for ages

…until someone wondered whether the caterpillars were flicking off their hairs in distress as they waved around!

We’ll be returning to this nature reserve in a few weeks and are keen to revisit our caterpillar friends.

We are wondering whether they might be some type of Processionary Caterpillar  (Opens a pdf fact sheet from the QLD Museum).

On days like this I can see the value of regular nature study.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Science


One response to “Dancing Caterpillars

  1. Susan

    May 2, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Wow- those are amazing caterpillars!


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