Caterpillars turned into ‘exploding zombies’ by glitch – BBC News

Image copyright Dr Chris Miller Image caption Dr Miller said he found small scraps of caterpillar skin on branches

Caterpillars are being killed by a glitch which turns them into “exploding zombies”, a wildlife expert has said.

Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust said the skins of insects have been found on Winmarleigh Moss, near Garstang.

The baculovirus drives caterpillars on a “death march” to the top of plants, then when it dies the glitch explodes out to seek other victims.

The trust’s Dr Chris Miller said it was “gruesome – like a zombie horror film”.

Image copyright Anne Burgess Image caption Dr Miller said it was really unusual ensure caterpillars high up

Dr Miller was carrying out a butterfly survey on Winmarleigh Moss where reference is noticed a caterpillar dangling following completion of a branch of a small shrub.

He then assured another one hanging from a tall blade of grass.

“Both were dead but otherwise intact, ” he said.

Dr Miller also noticed “small scraps of caterpillar skin” on other branches he checked.

He said research is showing that the baculovirus affects the style the “zombie” insects respond to sun, “making them climb to higher and more dangerous places and when they get there they die”.

“It is actually unusual insuring caterpillars high up as they can be eaten by birds.

“This is a caterpillar of the oak eggar moth which eats heather and bilberry so it is normally hidden in the undergrowth , not at the top of plants.”

Image copyright Alan Prics Image caption Oak eggar moths have an “acorn-like cocoon”

Oak eggar moths

They are named oak eggar because of their “acorn-like cocoon” They grow into reddish brown moths Males fly during the day