Can a caterpillar be more beautiful than…

Cecropia caterpillar eating its shed skin

…the moth it will become? YES, if the caterpillar happens to be Cécile the Cecropia!

Here we see Cécile in her third “Instar”—the period in between moults—meaning she’s just shed her skin for the third time. The dark material at the bottom is the remainder of her old skin.

It may seem a bit gross, but Cécile is eating her old skin. She’s absolutely ravenous, because she’ll soon be doing a miracle. Entombing herself in a chrysalis, then emerging as a winged Cecropia moth!

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Cecropia caterpillar eating its skin.
#2 in a collection of 2 photographs. What’s the dark material this Cecropia caterpillar is eating? It’s the skin she just shed!

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