Photo of googly-eyed caterpillar dazzles internet

A photographer in India captured a breathtaking image of the fruit-eating creature -- all with his smartphone.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

It's hard to believe this image of a fruit-piercing moth in its caterpillar stage is real. Are those googly eyes (like on this purple squid)? Is it sprinkled with pearl sugar, or with twinkling stars?

Ziya Tong, host of Discovery Channel Canada's "Daily Planet" show, described photographer Arabinda Pal's image as looking "like the cosmos in living form." When Tong shared it on Twitter, it got thousands of likes.

"I thought it was a plushie at first," Jon Hallam wrote on Twitter. "That our world has such wonders in it..."

But to Pal, who snapped the image with his smartphone on October 12, it's just another day in Daspur, West Bengal, India, where he says such moths in their various stages are "quite common."

A photo posted by Arabinda Pal (@palarabinda) on

"It is one of the major pests of fruits in Asia," he wrote on Instagram. "It causes huge damage to fruit." The creature uses a barbed proboscis to pierce the skin of fruits. And those dots that look like eyes aren't eyes at all, but a camouflaging element.

Pal, who has studied both zoology and marine biotechnology, says he is "passionate about wildlife," mainly birdwatching, but mammals and butterflies as well.

He captured the dazzling shot almost by accident -- and with his smartphone.

"I went birding, and suddenly I found this beautiful creature," he said. "It was too dark so I used my mobile (a Redmi 3S) to take this shot."

Pal also shared an image of the larva at a different stage, where it is bright red.

Enlarge Image

Struck by the bright red color, photographer Arabinda Pal took this photo of the fruit-piercing moth larva. Hard to believe, but it's the same creature that is shown in the first photo, just in a different stage.

Arabinda Pal