Thursday, 3 May 2018

Processing on

My last post about processionary moths has brought me another startling photo, left, this time from  a cousin and his partner who encountered hundreds of Pine Processionary caterpillars in Spain. This picture shows a two metre-long crocodile but they measured others stretching up to five metres.

They add: "We saw two lines trying to merge together, and they would butt each other out of the way to stop the others pushing in. It was like a rush-hour traffic jam." They gathered that if the lead caterpillar dies or encounters some other misfortune, the followers pile up in chaos. It would be interesting to test this, perhaps by gently removing the leader (and carefully; a lot of people are allergic to the caterpillar hairs).

There's room here for allegories about what happens to people who follow a leader in blind faith. The fact that processionary moths are doing so well is rather discouraging. But let us hope that the practice suits them rather better than it does human beings and nations.

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