Caterpillars start life as an egg on a leaf. Many species have been observed to consume the chorion (egg shell) which is primarily made of protein. The chorion is assumed to be a better source of protein than the plant. Some insects do not stop at eating their own chorion, but will consume the eggs of their unhatched siblings once they have finished their own chorion. Some caterpillar species that made the transition from leaf feeding to egg predators probably started with consuming their own chorion and other eggs in the clutch.HELEN BARROS-BELLANDA and
FERNANDO ZUCOLOTO* measured the effect of chorion consumption on a Brazilian cabbage caterpillar and found that chorion consumption increased the weight of 24 h old caterpillars by one half. The effects of chorion consumption were still apparent in later stages of the caterpillars. Take a lesson from caterpillars: good nutrition is important for a good start in life.
* Influence of chorion ingestion on the performance of Ascia monuste and its association with cannibalism. Ecological Entomology (2001) 26, 557-561.