Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cool Caterpillars

The moment we discovered caterpillars marked the beginning of a whole new world of natural history exploration for us. They are so varied, so colorful, so fun to find and so incredibly important to the natural food web. And, that's without mentioning they become the magical butterflies and moths we all love! Wow.

It's a good thing Steve noted this Saddleback caterpillar on his shoe before getting stung on those many spines. They're supposed to deliver one of the most potent stings of all caterpillars - a great defensive technique for sure. What a beauty! This guy is homegrown. All our wildlife plantings are working!

Here's another homegrown caterpillar on one of the roses in our old field. The long-winged dagger moth feeds on many woody plants including rose, blackberry, cherry, oak and more. We have all of those!

While hiking our long hike at Mohican State Park we found more cool cats. Our quick moving feet stopped at every caterpillar crossing the trail, which surely contributed to our long rest times which added up over the day. What are you to do though when you love to look at nature stuff?

The hike started quite cool (note our knit hats) so many of these caterpillars were quite sluggish. We can't imagine being cold blooded and at the mercy of the air temperatures!

The white-blotched heterocampa wandered the trail and caught our eye with its rosy coloring. According to David Wagner in Caterpillars of Eastern North America, this caterpillar turns pink when prepupal. Probably by now this caterpillar is coccooned and will perhaps over winter in this stage? This caterpillar feeds on oaks.

The gold moth caterpillar feeds on crownbeard, wingstem and perhaps others in the Asteraceae family. We found this caterpillar on the edge of the woods near the clear and cool Clear Fork branch of the Mohican River. This seems a perfect place for its host plant to grow.

The green-striped mapleworm turns into one of the prettiest moths - the rosy maple moth - pleasingly colored in yellows and rose.  They feed on maple, box elder and oak.

The pink-striped oakworm is super cool and is one we've not seen before. They feed on oaks.

The asteroid always turns up in old fields in fall due to its love of aster and goldenrod flowers, which are in full bloom this time of year. It's a colorful caterpillar fitting the vibrant autumnal hues of the season. forecasts some great weather in the 10 day so more caterpillar findings are a sure bet. You know we will be outdoors looking!

1 comment:

  1. Some beauties there I found a saddle back was it last yr? First time ever seeing one. All fascinating fellows you guys found on your hike, I'm dying to get in a hike in the mountains...soon I hope!!


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