Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

This Animal Isn’t A Snake. Think You Can Guess What It Really Is? (Photos)

Professor Daniel Janzen, a biology professor from the University of Pennsylvania, has spent years of his life cataloguing and photographing a very unique group of creatures: caterpillars that defend themselves against predators by looking and acting like snakes.

Check out some more pictures of “Snake Caterpillars” taken by Professor Janzen below:

Snake caterpillars can be found in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, and some parts of Mexico. Their markings resemble a snake’s head, which they can actually use to “strike” at would be predators (though they obviously can’t bite like a real snake would).

Janzen is an ecologist and what most would call a caterpillar expert. He’s been tracking these insects in Costa Rica since 1978 and  has been an expert in the field of entomology (the study of insects) for 50 years.

Dan Janzen, with a prehensile-tailed porcupine on his shoulder (Photo: Winnie Hallwachs / NOVA)

He splits his time between his labs and the field, spending half the year at the University and the other half in Central America, searching for strange new species of insect like the snake caterpillars.

The Bright Side of the Polar Vortex: It’s Killed Off A Bunch of These Invasive Stink Bugs

The polar vortexes have brought a lot of damage, danger, and just general discomfort to people who are not used to such drastically cold conditions.

But there has been at least one positive effect of this weather. A team of entomologists at Virginia Tech lead by Thomas Kuhar has been gathering Asian stink bugs near their campus for 3 years.

The brown marmorated stink bug, properly known known as Halyomorpha halys, was mistakenly introduced in Pennsylvania in 1998 and quickly spread to 38 different states.

The brown marmorated stink bug (Photo: NPR)
The brown marmorated stink bug (Photo: NPR)

The bugs have been plaguing homeowners (they congregate in walls, shingles, and attics when it gets cold) and destroying crops across the country since they arrived in the late 90s.

The usual winter die-off rate is about 20-25% of the stink bugs, according to Kuhar and his team. This year, however they saw 95% of the population die off.

Read the full story from National Geographic here.

Feature photo courtesy of Leske, 2010.