Thursday, October 9, 2008

Caterpillars, mostly

When spring's avian migration comes to a screeching halt, and our resident birds settle down to their serious genetic prerogative, I turn to other critters. For two summers I have spent some happy hours discovering and documenting hundreds of insects, amphibians, reptiles, wildflowers, mushrooms, and so on, that inhabit our 15 acres; both as an educational exercise and something to share with my kids and theirs (one day). Here are just a few examples. To the left is a crowned slug, or 'isa textula'. And on the right, we have the familiar green-striped mapleworm ('dryocampa rubicunda'), of rosy maple moth fame.

This moth I have only seen once, and would appreciate confirmation that it is either a large or small tolype. A close look will show that this moth is comfortably perched on a chop-stick.

The banded tussock moth, ('halysidota tessellaris') below, is commonly seen in our area. Birds tend to avoid this moth, hence it is often found in conspicuous positions, out in the open.

One of the most beautiful moths, the IO, is not surprisingly preceded by a spectacular caterpillar of the same name, ('automeris IO'), seen below.

And now, another slug caterpillar, the spiny oak slug, ('euclea delphinii'), found not on an oak but sunflower leaf in our garden, below.

One of my favorite finds was this silver spotted skipper caterpillar, ('epargyreus clarus'), staring at the camera with its fake eyes, below.

This highly patterned one to the right
is known as the turbulent phosphila,
or 'phosphila turbulenta'.

This one is the gold moth, or 'basilodes pepita', found in late September.

Another oak loving caterpillar, to the right, was found in full sun on the edge of a field also in late
September. It is known as the variable oakleaf caterpillar, ('lochmaeus manteo').

Directly below, the most acrobatic of the caterpillars, 'datana ministra', more commonly known as the yellow-necked caterpillar, is feasting on a birch leaf.

My photo of this caterpillar does not do justice to its vibrant green. The spotted apatelodes, ('apatelodes torrefacta'), seen below the acrobat was another late September find.

And last, but not least, our Eastern swallowtail,

('papilo glaucus'), may be familiar to many, with
its scary 'false' face.

Most if not all of these pix were taken last summer and fall. This year, I found far fewer caterpillars, but many more spiders. Anyone have any theories?

My apologies for the choppy layout. For your information, this was my very first attempt at anything remotely this challenging.


C said...

This is incredible! Keep up the great work, Scott!!!

Pam Croom said...

Gorgeous photos! Looking forward to your next installment.

Alex at Blueridgediscovery said...

Extremely nice. I like the photos. I have a blog at if you're interested.