The larvae (caterpillars) of the rare pink moth have a very strange defense mechanism. When disturbed, it suddenly arches its back to reveal a pair of large, terrifying eyes and teeth on either side.
The pink moth is a rare and mysterious insect found from subtropical New South Wales to Queensland and New Guinea. It feeds on rotting fruit and, although nocturnal, does not appear to be attracted to light.
The moth has a face like a skull.
The moth’s name is inspired by the bright pink stripe on its wings. Experts believe it acts as a defense mechanism because the sudden flash of color on their wings can startle or surprise predators.
During that time, the moth will have enough time to escape. But that defense strategy is not really unique as the pink moth performs when they are still in larval form and have not molted.
When they first hatch, the caterpillars are light brown, which helps them to better blend in with their surroundings and avoid detection by predators. But as they grow, their skin quickly develops two large black spots surrounded by yellow lines, which look like giant eyes. It even has two white lines that look like teeth.
Although it looks like a scary mask, the surprise is that they are located on the back of the caterpillar. So even if you see the “camouflaged eyes” seem to be staring at you, its head is actually tucked away near the belly.
However, at some angles, we can clearly see the camouflage patterns and lines on their backs.
The pink moth is also sometimes called the “big-headed caterpillar” because its head is lowered to the body and its back looks like the head of a large, dangerous creature is a way for them to warn off predators. Scientists believe that this scare tactic helps defenseless caterpillars fool species that want to attack them.