Wind dispersal of caterpillars ?

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Thu Nov 26 18:32:17 EST 1998

Dr Ian Dunn wrote:

> About a month ago on a cold dry windy day in Derby ( UK ) I attempted to
> rescue ( first point if I find a caterpillar wandering about on a path do I
> put it somewhere I consider to be safe or do I let events take their
> course ? )

	If you move them, you assume some karma. Are you going to put them on
the host plant of their dreams? Will you land them in an ant hill, or on
the hunting trail of a busy wasp? You are a natural hazard, just as the
footpath is, and you should follow your bliss. Do what pleases you. 
	In Roundstone (Galway, Ireland) I once saw the entire cast of a tourist
bus waiting politely as a wooly-bear type caterpillar wandered vaguely
across the pavement. They were all making sure it crossed safely. There
was a general aura of anxiety ... 
Being an interfering type, I offered the caterpillar a leaf, it mounted,
and I whisked it into a handy yard where it may or may not have found
whatever it was looking for. When they wander, usually all they want is
a bit of privacy for their pupation. 
	It is possible that, by butting in, I prevented all those folks from
achieving some sort of catharsis. On the other hand, I couldn't move my
car until the bus moved on ... ah, these impatient Americans, you are
saying, if you are Irish. 
	Infant caterpillars are often air-borne as a way of life. There are
risks, but dispersal is apparently worth it (if I may be teleological
for a moment). Older caterpillars will often drop on a long thread if
disturbed, and they, too, may be caught and whisked off. 

> several brown hairy caterpillars which were loose on a busy
> footpath . ( I suspect I'm not supposed to pick up the hairy ones but I
> got away with that bit ! ) In the process I dropped one or two and away
> they rolled just like tumble weed . Wind dispesral I wondered ?
> This is the sort of thing that interests me and I might be moved to post to
> this group not to mention pleas for help on identification etc .
> Would this be welcome amongst what sounds like an otherwise academic
> community ?
> Ian
> --
> Dr Ian Dunn mailto ianadunn at
> Moir Medical Centre Regent St Long Eaton
> Nottingham NG10 1JX

Just the sort of thing we enjoy. Go to it, and welcome aboard. 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida (and Mayo)

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