Bizarre caterpillar of the pink underwing moth shocks the internet by resembling a skull

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You’ve never seen a bug like this: the endangered caterpillar is shaking the internet with its cartoonish face

  • Bizarre caterpillar has stunned the internet with its cartoonish skull
  • Larvae found in Currumbin QLD belong to the endangered Pink Underwing Moth
  • The caterpillar will turn its teeth-like markings to predators when threatened

A bizarre caterpillar with a face resembling a cartoon-like skull has caused a stir online, and many are baffled to discover that the unusual creature is real.

The extraordinary specimen sighted in Currumbin Valley on the Gold Coast, Queensland is the larva of one of Australia’s most endangered species, the endangered Pink Underwing Moth.

The rare caterpillar is characterized by a series of tooth-like markings between two dark spots that resemble eyes with large pupils.

A bizarre caterpillar has stunned the internet because it resembles a cartoonish skull in Queensland

A bizarre caterpillar has stunned the internet because it resembles a cartoonish skull in Queensland

The unusual creature is the larvae of the endangered Pink Underwing Moth

The unusual creature is the larvae of the endangered Pink Underwing Moth

In an effort to scare off predators, the caterpillar curves its four-inch back to reveal some terrifying spots that resemble a sunken cartoon skull.

During their ‘specter’ strategy, the larvae will target predators, including birds and spiders, to scare them away.

Once the caterpillar has grown into a moth, it resembles dead brown eucalyptus leaves, with its brown forewings extending up to 6 cm at rest.

The caterpillar arches its back to reveal a few terrifying spots that resemble a sunken cartoon skull

The caterpillar arches its back to reveal a few terrifying spots that resemble a sunken cartoon skull

The startling images of the bizarre caterpillar posted on Outdoors Queensland have confused the internet, with much disbelief over the insect.

“The new face of your nightmares,” one woman wrote on Facebook.

‘Although I think this is really cool. It looks like something you’d find in a horror show, ”said another.

Others compared the larvae to the creatures in Ridley Scott’s science fiction movie ‘Aliens vs Predator’: ‘The aliens have finally landed … is that the spawn?’.

The moth resembles dead brown eucalyptus leaves with its brown forewings protruding up to 6 cm at rest (photo)

The moth resembles dead brown eucalyptus leaves with its brown forewings protruding up to 6 cm at rest (photo)

What Are Pink Underwing Moths?

Description:

The moth is named for its pink spots on its dark rear wing that also have white spots on the edges that resemble a dead leaf.

When alarmed, the species develops a ‘head’ consisting of two large ‘eye spots’ and a row of white ‘teeth’ to deter predators.

Distribution:

The pink underwing is found from Nambour in south-east Queensland to Bellingen in the north of NSW.

In NSW it is known to occur in a small number of places from the QLD border to Wardell.

They are found in subtropical rainforests below 600 meters in low light.

Hazards:

– Clearing or disrupting remaining areas of rainforest habitat for development and agriculture.

– Risk of local extinction due to limited distribution and low numbers.

– Weed invasion of rainforest debris, especially by exotic vine species.

– Use of rainforest debris by inland stocks for shelter and grazing.

– Insufficient understanding of taxonomy.

Credit: NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage

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