Saturday, May 24, 2008
A caterpillar is an elongate, wormlike larva of an insect, particularly of Butterfly and Moths. Typically long and slender, a caterpillar consists of three regions; head, thorax, and abdomen. The mandibles, or jaws, are effective in chewing plant matter. The thorax bears three pairs of short legs, and the abdomen usually bear a pair of fleshy prolegs on each of the third to sixth segments and on the tenth, or last, segment. Caterpillars of small moths rarely exceed 5 mm (0.2 in) in length; those of the largest may measure up to 155 mm (6 in). They are often brightly colored and patterned, and many have hairs of pines, which are sometimes poisonous.
Caterpillars are essentially the nutritive and growth stage of the insects life span. Ecologically, they are enormously important, transforming large amounts of plant matter into animal matter and wastes, as well as serving as food for other animals. Many caterpillars, however, are destructive to crops and shade trees.