A Look at Legs
How do legs help a monarch caterpillar (larva) survive?
True or False?
Look closely and you'll see that monarch larvae have two different kinds of legs. Their true legs are attached to the thorax. The caterpillar has six true legs, as all insects do. The larva also has false legs (or prolegs). False legs are attached to the abdomen, and are only present during the caterpillar stage.
A Sticky Grip
False legs (or prolegs) have pads at the ends with special hooks called crochets. When you hold a caterpillar, the sticky grip you feel are the crochets.
Hold On, Fat Caterpillar!
Milkweed is the only food a monarch larva eats. How does a young monarch manage to eat the same leaf it's standing upon? This monarch just finished eating a large milkweed leaf. He ate everything except the leaf's midvein and petiole (stalk).
Did You Know?
Before eating, a monarch often bites a notch in the petiole of a leaf. Once cut, the sticky sap drips out of the milkweed leaf and makes for easier eating.
Take a look at larva legs in action! Watch it walk in slow motion.
Notice how many ways monarch larvae use their legs. How do monarch's legs help them survive?