Australia | Scientists worry about fate of endemic insect species—many in NPs—imperiled by bushfires
SYDNEY, Australia — When Tanya Latty, an entomologist at the University of Sydney, started studying a species of velvet worm 18 months ago, she thought it was just a side project.
“It’s an adorable, adorable animal,” she said, speaking on the phone from her home in Sydney. The worms — which comprise the phylum Onychophora, are cousins of arthropods and somewhat resemble caterpillars — have a “beautiful blue velvety texture” and “cute little stubby antenna,” Dr. Latty said. The worms sleep together in a pile, she noted, and for that reason she and her colleagues have been trying to popularize the phrase “a cuddle of velvet worms” as a collective noun.