Before clicking play on the video below, which features a “monkey slug” caterpillar, we recommend clearing your schedule for about 15 minutes or so afterward. Because once you witness the monkey slug, with its spiny, puffy, limbs, and sticky underbody, you’re going to need to take a walk. During which you’ll contemplate your life choices (pressing play), and the evolutionary choices life itself makes.
Laughing Squid picked up on this video of the monkey slug caterpillar, which wildlife photographer, David Weiller, recently posted to YouTube. Weiller has posted a sizable array of wildlife videos over the past year or so, including this one of a hawk moth caterpillar that looks just like a snake.
Weiller, who’s snapped animals from all over the world, says this monkey slug is from the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. Although monkey slugs can apparently also be found in America (yay?), mostly on the East Coast, from Maine down to Florida. And as far west as Oklahoma.
As for the monkey slug caterpillar itself, it’s hard to find the best place to start. Mostly because there are only horrible places to start. Aesthetically, the monkey slug mimics a hairy tarantula for protection; it has nine “fleshy appendages” on its sides, which look like legs, but aren’t. And its real legs under its body are even worse, as they look like gross, squishy jelly beans.
Many of the monkey slug’s short, brown hairs are also poisonous. If one were to touch these hairs, the poison would cause their skin to burn, like a bee sting would. Although, really, looking at the monkey slug seems like it’d be worse than being stung by one.
As for the moth the monkey slug caterpillar turns into, it’s not nearly as painful on the eyes. In fact, the adult monkey slug (immediately above) looks pretty much like any other moth you may come across. Which goes to show you: You can’t judge a creature by its larvae. Although you can beg nature photographers to never ever punish us with any visual evidence of said larvae ever again.