To get technical, this lil guy comes from the Olona genus of the family Limacodidae, a group of moths known for their slug-like caterpillar form. Slug-moth caterpillars are much orange and very squish.
The jellybean caterpillar loves crawling around the forest, munching on leaves, and making cocoons, scientists discover.
Species from the Olona genus can be found in Australia as well as South East Asia and China. They come in a range of colours, such as orange, yellow, and bright green. As beautiful as they are, don’t handle these little guys. When they sense danger, they shed the little gummy nodules (which give them their distinct squishiness) like a lizard and bolt.
Scientists have dubbed squishy a “gelatine” caterpillar, for very obvious reasons. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Our little gummy worm has a brother, called the “stinging nettle”, and he is just as majestic as you can imagine. So. Many. Spikes. Check out both forms below.
Our stabby and gelatinous friends are known as cup moths as they build cup-like cocoons that look just like gum nuts. Lucky for us, the mottled cup moth (Doratifera vulnerans) is very common in Sydney, while central NSW can find the painted cup moth (Doratifera oxleyi), and the east coast is flooded with the pale cup moth (Doratifera pinguis).
So now you can all find your own squishies. Just make sure to not pick them up or they’ll lose all their gumminess and you’ll ruin the fun for everyone.
Check out some more of the Olona Limacodidae caterpillars below.
— John Horstman (@sinobug) August 8, 2017
An “Olona Limacodidae caterpillar”.. (and not a psychedelic haribo 😛 ..) pic.twitter.com/S9F73UqPLn
— MBi (@archeometrie) July 21, 2019