Pokemon: Caterpie's "Antenna" is Actually a Retractable Stink Organ

A fan-favorite Pokemon's most prominent feature isn't what it seems. The Pokemon world is a [...]

A fan-favorite Pokemon's most prominent feature isn't what it seems. The Pokemon world is a strange and wild place that seems totally unlike our own. While the real world doesn't have any fire-breathing dragons or animated trash bags, many of the Pokemon we know and love were inspired by real world animals. One such Pokemon is Caterpie, a humble Bug-type Pokemon that players can catch early on in their first Pokemon adventure. Caterpie was inspired by the caterpillar form of the Asian swallowtail, a common butterfly found in China, Korea, Japan, and Hawaii. The larvae form of the swallowtail has eyespots that look identical to Caterpie's real eyes, as well as the pronged pink osmeterium on its forehead.

While most Pokemon fans think of the osmeterium as antenna, it's actually a distinctive organ with a totally different purpose. The osmeterium is actually a retractable organ that emits a foul odor, causing predators to stay away. It's a purely defensive mechanism, one which is actually reflected in Caterpie's various Pokedex entries over the years.

While Caterpie's osmeterium is referred to as a "feeler" or "antenna" in different Pokedex entries, many reference that it releases a horrible stench from it, designed specifically to keep predators and enemies away. This doesn't always work, though, as it seems to be a favorite prey for many types of Bird Pokemon. What we don't know is whether Caterpie's osmeterium is retractable or not. While we've never seen a Caterpie with its osmeterium retracted, that could be because the Pokemon is always afraid of getting eaten. It is a dangerous world out there.

Unfortunately, Caterpie's osmeterium is only for show and doesn't actually provide the Pokemon with any unique attacks. Caterpie can only naturally learn three attacks (Tackle, String Shot, and Bug Bite) and it can also learn Electroweb as a TM move. Caterpie also doesn't have the "Stench" ability, despite almost half of its Pokedex entries referencing the Pokemon's ability to stink away predators.

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Are you surprised by Caterpie's strange ability? Let us know in the comment section or find me on Twitter at @CHofferCBus to chat all things Pokemon!