Arctic Caterpillar Sleeps Its Life Away, Completely Frozen
By: Jason Robey
If caterpillars live life by a motto (which, admittedly is a big “if,” but bear with me), one could likely sum it up as: “live fast, die young.” Yes, like little rock stars. I told you to bear with me.
That may work for most caterpillars, but not for the woolly bear, which lives its life in the Canadian High Arctic.
While other caterpillars live for less than a month before transforming into a moth or butterfly, the woolly bear caterpillar takes its time. Fourteen years, to be exact.
During this time, the caterpillar freezes solid every winter. It produces a natural antifreeze that prevents deadly ice crystals from forming in its cells that would otherwise rip it apart. Kind of hard to “live fast, die young” when you’re as solid as an ice cube half the year.
The woolly bear caterpillar’s incredible life cycle is explained in this remarkable scene from Frozen Planet, from the creators of Planet Earth and Life.