Young country diary: The hungry caterpillar makes beautiful shapes | Nenedjo

East London: I saw something weird on a leaf at forest school, then one of the teachers told me something that blew my mind

One day you might see a leaf. It could be a leaf you see every day or you’ve just seen it for the very first time. But one thing is for sure, it looks like someone has drawn on it.

But nobody did. It might seem weird, but that leaf has been nibbled by a caterpillar. When they eat a leaf they make squiggly lines on it. Some people think they are pests and try to kill them with vinegar mixed with some bug spray. To me, what they do is a masterpiece of nature.

One thing that is so mind-blowing is that not one of the squiggles on the leaves is the same. They have different shapes and sizes like our fingerprints. They are unique just like us.

Nenedjo with the leaf she found at forest school.
Nenedjo with the leaf she found at forest school. Photograph: Family handout

I learned this at my forest school where we go once a month. I was standing next to a tree to get something when I spotted some squiggles on a leaf. I showed it to my forest school teachers and one of them told me it was nibbled by a leaf miner caterpillar. Leaf miners can be moths, flies, sawflies or even some types of beetles. The adult females lay their eggs on the leaf so larvae can eat the inside of it. The miners can be different types, and the one I found was linear.

So whenever you go outside, keep an eye out, if you are lucky you might spot a leaf miner just like I did.
Nenedjo, eight

• Read today’s other YCD by Henry, 12: ‘I found the strangest thing in a rockpool

• Country Diary is on Twitter at @gdncountrydiary

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