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Dragon-Headed Caterpillar Poisonous and Life Cycle

August 9, 2018 | Caterpillar

The dragon headed caterpillar is easy to identify because it has a head that looks like a dragonhead helmet. This head features very long curled horns which are quite beautiful. But if you’ve ever looked at illustrations of dragons, you’ll see these horns are very similar. Dragon-headed caterpillars are originally native to Singapore, South Africa, and eastern African nations. Recently, they have been introduced to other areas of the South Asian region of the world.

Dragon-headed caterpillars only represent the larvae stage of a buttery species. When they are in their adult stage, the butterfly will have completely different colors than it did when it was still a caterpillar. When they are in the egg stage of their life cycle, they start out very different. You probably wouldn’t guess that a dragonhead caterpillar could turn into such vibrant-looking butterflies. We will go over the life cycle of a dragonhead caterpillar right now.

Life Cycle

When baby dragonhead caterpillars first push themselves out of their eggshells, they have a completely black dragonhead. These hatchlings will then begin searching for food to eat so that they can grow big and strong. Leaves are their main food supply as they search for host plants to continuously feed on. Not only that, the caterpillars will remain on the leaves to rest there as well.

As the caterpillars grow older, they’ll spin silk beds for themselves on the leaves. These beds are mostly found near the tips of the leaves. The purpose of the beds is to create a base camp for the other caterpillars, so they can assist each other with the feeding and resting process. New eggs will be laid at the bases too. It takes around 4 days for an egg to completely hatch itself.

As new hatchlings come out of their eggs, they’ll feast on their eggshells first before eating the leaves. When the hatchlings enter their larvae and pupa stages, their appearance gradually goes from black to green. The horns on their dragonheads will turn red, which makes them look even scarier. Once the caterpillar has gone through the entire metamorphosis process, it becomes the beautiful blue butterfly that everyone enjoys looking at. This is the adult stage.

Poisonous

You might have a lot of different emotions when you see a dragonhead caterpillar. On one hand, they look like amazing little creatures which come from some prehistoric age or something. You might be tempted to pick up these caterpillars for a closer look. While people have not been known to develop any serious symptoms from touching a dragon-headed caterpillar, you should still take some precautions.

The area of a dragonhead caterpillar that you truly need to worry about is its horns. With dragon-like horns attached to its head, they can poke you easily if you touch them. This will give you a stinging feeling that will be rather unpleasant. You might develop a rash or itching feeling there, but it should not be too serious. The only time the symptoms will be worse is if the horn penetrates your skin too deeply. In that case, you might want to disinfect that area by washing it and then applying a saline solution to rinse it out.

Read also: Saddleback Caterpillar Sting Symptoms and Treatments

Other Information

There are multiple species of dragonhead caterpillars on this planet. For example, there are the white-barred caterpillars which are native to Africa. They have very short blue horns on them. Another African dragonhead caterpillar is the foxy emperor caterpillar which has 4 short horns with red tips that look like blood. But the most popular dragonhead caterpillar species is the blue nawab caterpillar. These have long curled horns that are very attractive and easy to spot. If you’re ever in the forests of Singapore, you should look for them.

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