Brittany Dodson-9-looper gut

Brittany Dodson-9-looper gut

dissected cabbage looper

Opening up a cabbage looper caterpillar—fat and bright green after eating cabbage for three days—reveals the gut and two long, translucent salivary glands that run the length of the body. In addition to making saliva, the glands also produce silk that the caterpillar uses to make a cocoon. The silk also helps the looper move from one plant to another by a process called ballooning. "They will let out silk, and while still attached to it, will drop off the plant and let the wind take them," says Rivera-Vega.

IMAGE: ©Brittany Dodson