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This Gloriously Weird Caterpillar Has "Tentacles" That Erupt When You Shout At It

"Can u not" – this caterpillar, probably.

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When he was in the Peruvian Amazon recently, entomologist Aaron Pomerantz came across the "craziest caterpillar [he'd] ever seen."

Aaron Pomerantz / PeruNature.com and Steven Senisi / Edtechlens.com

Pomerantz works for ecotourism company Rainforest Expeditions and wrote about his discovery on their blog.

Whenever the caterpillar was disturbed by a loud sound, its four tentacle-like arms would pop out. You can see it for yourself in this video.

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Pomerantz explains in a blog post how he came across the unusual creature.

I might never have noticed this small brown insect had it not been for its unusual movement: noises would cause it to fire its tentacles in randomized directions, then slowly twirl back into a spring-like "ready" position to await its next alarm. This reaction to noise was so peculiar that once my group joined me around the creature, we proceeded to take turns yelling at it and filming its contorting reactions for over an hour.

He thinks it's a species of the Nematocampa genus, in the Geometrid family of moths.

But Andy Warren, senior collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told National Geographic that you'd have to wait until the caterpillar grew into a moth, or sequence its DNA, to be for sure of its species.
Aaron Pomerantz / PeruNature.com

But Andy Warren, senior collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told National Geographic that you'd have to wait until the caterpillar grew into a moth, or sequence its DNA, to be for sure of its species.

The "tentacles" are probably there for defense, but scientists don't know exactly what they do.

Pomerantz speculates that they could come out so that a predatory bird has a higher chance of grabbing a tentacle rather than the caterpillar itself, or even that there might be sensors on the end of each tentacle that could detect predators.
Aaron Pomerantz / PeruNature.com

Pomerantz speculates that they could come out so that a predatory bird has a higher chance of grabbing a tentacle rather than the caterpillar itself, or even that there might be sensors on the end of each tentacle that could detect predators.

You do you, little caterpillar. 🐛