We all know that a caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis to become a butterfly, but how about one that turns itself into a deadly snake?
It may sound like something taken from a fairy tale, but for the Hawk moth caterpillar, disguising itself as a venomous snake is simply a way of protecting itself from predators.
Though it is completely harmless, the Hawk moth caterpillar’s change happens whenever it feels threatened: its body swells, the shape of its head changes, and it rolls over, revealing two black markings that look like snake eyes. This gives the small, harmless insect the physical appearance of a highly toxic Pit viper.
Hawk moths – sometimes called elephant moths, sphinx moths – can be found in every region of the world, and are most prevalent in the tropics. Many Hawk moth caterpillars have defining “hooks” on their abdomen, which aid in identification.