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Australian caterpillar builds a weapon in its head from shed skulls to fight off predators

A caterpillar native to Australia builds a tower of its shed skulls on top of its head to use as a weapon against predators.

Called the gum skeletonizer, this insect is just two inches long and piles up its weathered heads to create a horn-like structure that swings at its enemies – stink bugs in particular.

The creatures have been given a number of nicknames, from Unicorn Caterpillars to Mad Hatterpillars, but the scientific name is Uraba lugens.

Each gum leaf skeletonizer sheds its skin up to 13 times before spinning a cocoon and turning into a moth.

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A caterpillar native to Australia builds a tower of its shed skulls on top of its head to use as a weapon against predators

A caterpillar native to Australia builds a tower of its shed skulls on top of its head to use as a weapon against predators

The caterpillar was first discovered in New Zealand in 1995 and got its name from its habit of ‘skeletonizing’ the leaves of the gums by feeding on the green parts only – leaving only the veins.

They are hairy creatures with shades of yellow and black along with gray markings.

But what sets them apart from the rest is the unique ‘hat’ on their heads, made up of former head capsules.

Dieter Hochuli, of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, said Newsweek“These guys make a tower up there of five, six or seven heads and use it to deter things they try to eat.”

This insect, the gum leaf skeletonizer, is just two inches long and stacks up its weathered heads to create a horn-like structure that swings at its enemies - stink bugs in particular

This insect, the gum leaf skeletonizer, is just two inches long and stacks up its weathered heads to create a horn-like structure that swings at its enemies - stink bugs in particular

This insect, the gum leaf skeletonizer, is just two inches long and stacks up its weathered heads to create a horn-like structure that swings at its enemies – stink bugs in particular

And the caterpillar’s biggest threat is the stink bug.

The bug attacks the skeletonizer by inserting a needle from its mouth through the victim’s head.

The stinky beetle only hits the tower of empty heads, confusing it and opening a small window where the caterpillar can escape.

However, these caterpillars aren’t as helpless as they seem – it’s dangerous to both the environment and human health.

The creatures have been given a number of nicknames, from Unicorn Caterpillars to Mad Hatterpillars, but the scientific name is Uraba lugens

The creatures have been given a number of nicknames, from Unicorn Caterpillars to Mad Hatterpillars, but the scientific name is Uraba lugens

The creatures have been given a number of nicknames, from Unicorn Caterpillars to Mad Hatterpillars, but the scientific name is Uraba lugens

Each gum leaf skeletonizer sheds its skin up to 13 times before spinning a cocoon and turning into a moth

Each gum leaf skeletonizer sheds its skin up to 13 times before spinning a cocoon and turning into a moth

Each gum leaf skeletonizer sheds its skin up to 13 times before spinning a cocoon and turning into a moth

The hairs on his body cause a painful sting and skin irritation when in contact with human skin.

Another dangerous caterpillar has been found to invade parts of the US that also pose a threat to humans.

Called a puss caterpillar, the furry creature is covered in poisonous spines that cause intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever, and symptoms of shock.

The furry creature lives in the southern states and feeds on shade trees such as elm, oak and sycamore, but locals have seen it around parks and other structures.

However, there has recently been an ‘outbreak’ in parts of Virginia, following numerous sightings of what has been called the most poisonous caterpillar in the US.

Officials note that the poisonous caterpillar population is controlled by natural enemies, but chemical insecticides will be used if necessary.

The Virginia Department for Forestry has received numerous reports of the caterpillar in a few eastern counties in the state, but has not specified exact locations.

Another dangerous caterpillar has been found to invade parts of the US that also pose a threat to humans. The furry creature is called a cat caterpillar and is covered in poisonous spines that cause intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever and symptoms of shock

Another dangerous caterpillar has been found to invade parts of the US that also pose a threat to humans. The furry creature is called a puss caterpillar and is covered in poisonous spines that cause intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever, and symptoms of shock

Another dangerous caterpillar has been found invading parts of the US that also pose a threat to humans. The furry creature is called a cat caterpillar and is covered in poisonous spines that cause intense pain when touched, along with swelling, fever, and symptoms of shock

Crystal Spindle Gaston, a Richmond resident, told The Daily Progress about her encounter with the puss caterpillar.

Gaston reached for the back of her car parked in front of her house when she felt excruciating pain.

“It felt just like a red-hot knife going through the outside of my calf,” said Gaston, 55, of New Kent County.

“Before I looked down to see where it came from, I thought 100 percent I would see a big piece of metal, super sharp, sticking out of my car.”

She felt “white-hot pain” and immediately went to the emergency room – it took her three days to feel normal again.

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