One thing I’ve learned about caterpillars is that their heads look TERRIFYING under a scope. So many appendages and hairs and spines and eyes… the mouthparts of a caterpillar look like something straight out of a horror movie.
I have never been a big fan of fiction, and it’s because there are so many crazy things in real life. I don’t see much need for making things up. Caterpillars reaffirm that belief.
Here is a shot of my first mandible dissection. I used a species of cutworm, my advisor had a bunch of extras and said I could use them as practice. I first cut off the heads, and soaked them in a solution of KOH to dissolve the soft tissue. I then attempted to hack off one of the mandibles and the hyperpharyngeal complex. Next step will be to try a few more before doing the real specimens I need to examine.
Here is the mandible by itself.