Caterpillar toy challenge

Here is my challenge to you!

Go out and find an ANATOMICALLY CORRECT toy caterpillar, and post a link in the comments. It can either be something you found online, or a photo you took in a shop or your own toy collection (you can say it belongs to your child or little cousin, but we’ll all know the truth). It can be handmade or mass produced, plush or plastic or anything.

So far I have been disappointingly unsuccessful in finding a caterpillar toy that is even marginally close to what caterpillars actually look like. They’re all colorful round blobs strung together, with giant googly eyes, large antennae, and a random number of legs (usually far too many and in all the wrong places, or else none at all!). They more closely resemble centipedes or maggots than anything lepidoptera related.

For those who don’t know, caterpillars look like this:

Not like this:

To be fair, I don’t expect toy caterpillars to have six stemmata (eyes) on each side of the head. I can forgive cutesy eyes. I can even forgive the wrong number of body segments, because most people would give up trying to count them.

My main pet peeve is the number and placement of legs. Insects having six legs is a pretty basic you-learn-it-in-elementary-school concept, and I personally believe it should be there as a reminder in childrens’ toys too. Yes, caterpillars have prolegs, which messes things up a bit, but they are different from the real legs, and on a separate part of the body. It’s been a peeve of mine since I was a little kid, and it surely will be until I die. Even if the real legs and pro legs are not distinguished, there should never be legs on every single segment! And you can fight me all you want on “artistic interpretation”, but I rarely consider that an excuse for being flat-out-wrong. If you want to invent a fantasy creature, fine, but don’t call it a caterpillar (in case you can’t tell, I could rant about this all day, but I’ll hold myself back). Basically… sure I expect some baby-oriented toys to be oversimplified, but there must be SOMETHING out there to give children the chance to have a caterpillar toy that looks like… a caterpillar.

Some other things to keep in mind – caterpillar antennae are tiny, usually barely visible, and arise toward the bottom of the head under the eyes. No toy caterpillar should have giant antennae on the head, it would look more accurate if they were absent. If they do have osmeteria (the fleshy, smelly extensions some use as a defense mechanism), they arise from a thoracic segment behind the head, not from the head itself.

Of course, this is all leading up to why I started my WeirdBugLady business. Only I’ve been slacking on the caterpillars lately. I’ve made a few as mascots for the lab, but not for my shop. I need to get on that. I was really holding out hope that somewhere else on the planet, someone was making reasonably accurate caterpillar toys. So far, from a day of searching online, I’ve come up empty-handed. I don’t expect perfection (even from my own plushies)… but at least an attempt at basic body parts.

So it’s up to you to give me some hope! Let me know what you find!
(And if you find something good, I’ll probably buy it)

Posted on September 4, 2011, in Invertebrates, Lepidoptera. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. how about this one? Not plush but…

  2. Do keep us posted on what you find!

  3. I totally found a realistic plush caterpillar!!!

    • Cool! Ok, here’s my analysis. That does a decent job with the prolegs, I can’t really see the front legs though. There is no head capsule, just eyes, but that’s understandable since the head capsule of monarch caterpillars has the same pattern as the body. And it’s missing the rest of the soft horns that monarch caterpillars have – there’s not just one in the back, there’s two in the back and two longer ones in the front. The adult is pretty good, it’s a male, you can tell by the scent glands on the hind wings. Overall MUCH better than the other caterpillar toy that company has.

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Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.

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