Tent Caterpillars: “Can you do this?”


As humans, we think quite highly of our intelligence and how “far above” we are in comparison to plants and other living creatures.

But more often than not, other living creatures come along and simply say: “Can you do this?”

Take the tent caterpillars as an example. They are constantly hungry and can strip a tree in a day or two. To sustain their voracious appetites, they have developed a brilliant method to ensure they survive and get the best food at the same time. While they are busy on one tree, they send out scouts to find a new source of food. Each scout leaves a scent trail as it leaves, to help it navigate back to the nest. The second trail gives information about the quality of food it just ate. The other caterpillars then compare the scent trails and decide if any of the scent trails are worth leaving the nest for it. Once they figure out which sent trail is good enough, the rest of the colony leaves to follow the chosen scent trail.

(From Fishing for the Village, Cassie Carstens & George Kellerman)

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About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert