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Processionary Caterpillar  train 4, Noosa National Park | by brewbooks
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Processionary Caterpillar train 4, Noosa National Park

I watched this group of caterpillars stop, and then reform and proceed onward.

 

Here is another instance of these caterpillars from a previous days tramp

 

Excellent reference from Don Herbison-Evans and Stella Crossley here is what they say about the procession:

"Each Caterpillar when it walks, leaves a trail of silk from its spinneret near its mouth. When a Caterpillar of this species encounters such a silken trail, it starts to follow it.

Thus the Caterpillars when they walk are inclined to follow each other, nose to tail, like a minature freight train."

 

Ochrogaster lunifer (Herrich-Schaffer, [1855])

Teara contraria

Processionary Caterpillar

Thaumetopoeinae Ochrogaster

Notodontidae (Moth) Family

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

 

Update 9 May 08 - Here is a great reference on social caterpillars from Terrence Fitzgerald and another reference on Pine Processionary caterpillars that I got from a blog by Andy Dean of the NC State Insect Museum on cycloalexy. Thanks Andy.

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Taken on March 12, 2005