Day-flying Moth Caterpillars, Zygaenidae II
Moths of the family Zygaenidae are typically day-flying with a slow fluttering flight, and with rather clubbed antennae. They generally bear a metallic sheen and bright colours which are a warning to predators that the moths are distasteful - they contain hydrogen cyanide (HCN) throughout all stages of their life-cycle. They are capable of making HCN themselves, so when in an environment poor in cyanide-producing plants, synthesize it themselves.
As distinctive as the adult moths themselves, their caterpillars are stunning in appearance exhibiting those same garish warning colors as their adult forms. Caterpillars in two subfamilies, Chalcosiinae and Zygaeninae, have cavities in which they store the cyanide, and can excrete it as defensive droplets (you can see this clearly in the first image).
These are a selection of the local Yunnan Zygaenid moth caterpillars. Click the images to see identifications (where known)…..
This is the second (II) in a set of related posts featuring Zygaenid moth caterpillars.
View the other… HERE.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
See more Chinese caterpillars on my Flickr site HERE…..