Each caterpillars and grownup moths are bodily tailored to residing throughout the slippery inside of the pitcher partitions. Microscopic analyses of their ft have revealed specialised morphological variations that permit them to cling to the waxy partitions of the pitcher. The caterpillars might also profit from their skill to spin silken strains. Apparently, the moths are solely ever discovered perched upright within the pitchers. Even after they mate (which additionally happens throughout the pitcher), they accomplish that at a 90 diploma angle in order that neither associate is dealing with downward. It’s thought that they have to stay largely upright to ensure that their ft to correctly cling to the waxy wall.
No matter which pitcher plant they’re consuming, these three moths all behave equally all through their lifecycle. The caterpillars are hatched inside a pitcher. Instantly they start feeding on the wall of the pitcher. They are going to solely eat the inside cells of the pitcher wall, leaving a skinny layer of tissue on the surface wall. This makes the pitcher look as whether it is coated in translucent, brown home windows. Sooner or later of their growth, the caterpillars may even spin a layer of silk over the mouth of the pitcher. This protects them from predators like lynx spiders and cuts off the pitchers skill to seize prey (extra on this in a bit).
Because the caterpillars develop, they’ll sometimes transfer to new pitchers. At bigger sizes, their feeding harm may be fairly in depth, damaging the partitions of the pitcher to the purpose that it loses its structural integrity and folds over. This may additionally serve to guard the caterpillar from predators whereas equally lowering the flexibility of the plant to seize meals. After their fifth larval instar, the caterpillars will transfer to a brand new, often undamaged pitcher. In lots of situations, they’ll crawl to the underside and chew a small gap within the aspect, draining the pitcher of its digestive fluids. They are going to then pupate simply above the drainage gap.