Envenomation by caterpillar BITE

burro at panama.gulf.net burro at panama.gulf.net
Wed Jan 23 23:11:26 EST 2002

List - I belong to the venom list, which is mostly for herpetologists,
but occasionally an interesting "other" pops up, and I forward this to
you because I thought it relevant.

May Lenzer

Richfield <richfield at telkomsa.net>@icomm.ca on 01/21/2002 01:54:41

Sent by:  owner-venom-l at icomm.ca

To:   venom-l at icomm.ca

Subject:  venom-l Question. Caterpillar envenomation by bites.

No, I am well aware that most caterpillar envenomation is by
spines, so
please do not bother to explain that in tones of strained patience!
have searched the web energetically, though of course not
and have come up with so far nothing but blanks and bristles, so I
hoping to find someone who can direct me at some solid information.

A few years ago I read passim in Nature, of a South American
with a poisonous BITE.  At the time I noticed this with surprise
interest, but without amazement, and passed on because there were
more details, unless a vague memory is correct, that they fed in
groups.  Meanwhile I have lost the reference and failed to find any
other reference.

Biologically the idea is by no means implausible.  Some
caterpillars do
bite, though none that I know have a venomous bite.  In fact I have
known a carelessly held Heliothis larva to draw blood where it had
nibbled at the skin for a minute or so.  Some species will turn and
attacking ants or parasitoids.  Some are in fact predatory or
cannibalistic.  Also, many species will turn and dribble saliva or
regurgitated food on an attacker.  The evolutionary opportunity for
developing a venomous bite certainly exists.

So, if anyone has any substantial information: species, family,
experiences,  venom, the material and ecological importance of the
species, references, any of the usual stuff (preferably on line), I
should be most grateful to hear of it.

Thanks for your attention,

Go well,

Jon Richfield
     "When the facts change I change my mind sir,
      what do you do?   --   John Maynard Keynes



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