Vietnamese Jumping Caterpillar

A paper published online August 21, 2013 in Biology Letters by former graduate student Kim Humphreys and Chris Darling (ROM) describes the behaviour of a remarkable caterpillar that jumps.

The caterpillar of Calindoea trifascialis (Lepidoptera: Thyrididae), which lives in the dry dipterocarp forests of Vietnam, has evolved a unique method of travelling – it jumps! Prior to becoming a moth, it constructs a leaf roll, and silks it closed so that it can’t see outside. If the weather is sunny and hot, the leaf roll jumps across the ground for the next three days. Inside, the caterpillar can tell by brightness where the sun is, and it jumps in a direction mostly opposite to the sun. The paper explores two main questions: why it jumps, and why it seems to jump away from the light.

Vietnamese Jumping Caterpillars

For more information and photos and videos, see a blog written by Chris Darling and posted on the ROM website or Biology letters :