|Carnivorous captive - Kevin Firth|
|Chilling out with Kevin Firth|
|Short proboscis - Kevin Firth|
|Woolly aphid - Mark Bower|
The carnivorous behavior occurs earlier in its life cycle. The females lay their eggs in colonies of woolly aphids and sometimes scale insects. The caterpillars then eat the aphids, sometimes protecting themselves under a silk mat with a coating of aphid carcasses. You may recall the woolly aphids from last month's blog.
|Caterpillar camouflaged by aphids-Tom Murray CC|
|Early instar wax covered|
Jerry F. Butler
Interesting that an aphid camouflaged by material on its back is devoured by a caterpillar that uses aphids' bodies to cover itself, the insect version of Russian nesting dolls.
The caterpillars share a chemical profile with the aphids, and that, plus their cover of aphid bodies are felt to serve as protection from ants that will farm these aphids like cattle, collecting their honeydew. Just another example of the complex networks of symbiosis, parasite and prey relationships in nature.
July 20, 2016 update
Kevin raised the caterpillars and now has the pupa. Congratulations, Dad!
|Carnivorous caterpillar- Kevin Firth|
Read a more detailed account with photographs at this Florida University site.
|F. tarquinius chilling out- Linda Ellis|