What the Donald Trump Caterpillar Teaches Us About Animal Survival

Kirstin Fawcett
YouTube / YouTube

Even the Peruvian Amazon isn’t safe from politics during an election cycle. Earlier this fall, while on a jungle excursion, nature shutterbug Jeff Cremer photographed a furry yellow critter perched on a tree branch. Scientists call it the Megalopyge opercularis, or the flannel moth caterpillar—but since the insect’s gravity-defying neon hair bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump’s notorious coif, Cremer re-christened it the Donald Trump caterpillar.

In some ways, the Amazon jungle and the Washington, D.C. political scene are a lot alike. But unlike politicians, animals typically don’t want to attract attention, since they want to avoid predators. In the video below, PBS "It's Okay to Be Smart" host Jon Hanson explains how the Trump caterpillar’s garish fuzz actually scares other critters away—and why other organisms have evolved to mimic its appearance.

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