When you encounter a snake, don’t panic just yet, it just might be a harmless little caterpillar – or it could really be a snake. Either way, just run. In Costa Rica, there’s a caterpillar that camouflages itself to look like a snake, with its tail appearing to be the head of the vicious reptile. It even hides its legs and expands its body to make the snake-like markings on its body more realistic.
In its larval state, it even acts like a snake, pretending to strike at predators to defend itself. Though venom and instant death are not part of the package.
Daniel Janzen, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been avidly tracking the caterpillar species since 1978 and has been an expert on the subject for 50 years. He photographed the caterpillars in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste and says that they are part of the hemeroplanes species.
‘To normal people this caterpillar might look weird and scary, but for me it’s just a walk in the park. Every caterpillar in Costa Rica looks like something else – be it a leaf, twig or in this case, a slithering snake’, he tells MailOnline. ‘Over the years I’ve seen and photographed so many different types of bugs I’m never surprised, but they always interest me’.