In which we perform a series of tests on caterpillars

Our Test Subject (shown next to a ruler because measuring stuff makes it seem more science-y)

If you are just joining us, yesterday my daughter asked me if caterpillars are ticklish. Today is the day we find out.

What Happened:
Parking the car under a tree worked beautifully. When we walked out this morning, we found plenty of candidates.

Tickle Attempt 1: The Leaf
Tickling a caterpillar with a leaf was hard. Once you put the leaf near the caterpillar’s belly (where the nervous system is), the caterpillar simply squidged onto it.

Get me out of here!

Preliminary Verdict #1:
Leaves do not appear to be very ticklish for caterpillars.

Tickle Attempt #2: The Feather
The first tickle with the feather was highly satisfying, as the caterpillar promptly curled up on its side just like my daughter does when I tickle her. It looked very ticklish. But the results of the second and third attempts with the feather were not as compelling (the caterpillar simply ignored it).

Preliminary Verdict #2:
Feathers appear to be more startling than ticklish.

tickle, tickle, tickle

Tickle Attempt #3: The Flower
The flower gets more points, as my daughter says, because every time we tried to tickle the caterpillar with the flower, it appeared to work.

Our Conclusion:
Caterpillars are ticklish with the right equipment.

What the 4-Year-Old Thought:
“Very good.”

mmm caterpillar snacks

In Case You Were Wondering:
No caterpillars were harmed in this experiment, although one of them was thoroughly annoyed. My daughter placated him with a plate of tasty snacks.


    • I know. I wish more of my daughter’s questions lent themselves to experiments within my rather limited scientific skill and tool set. If any more come up you can believe I’ll write them up!


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