Change is in the Air

Summer is a promisory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.

~Hal Borland

There is a change in the air…it doesn’t seem as humid; hurricanes are in the news; and at our house, we are starting to look for caterpillars. Yes, Fall must be coming and with it, the museum’s BugFest event (and some other caterpillar-related programming at both Melissa’s work and mine). Our annual love-hate relationship with “caterpillar wrangling” is starting and will continue for the next three weeks. So, our labor for this Labor Day, was to start looking for some interesting larvae. If things run true to form, we will find a lot of really cool caterpillars in the next week or so, and then many of them will pupate before their big day (this year, BugFest is September 21…really pushing it to be able to find many of our caterpillar species still in their larval state). But, the fun is in the finding. Here are a few highlights from recent searches.

spicebush swallowtail larva

Peek-a-boo look at a last instar Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in it folded leaf lair (click photos to enlarge)

hemipteran eggs and parasitoid wasp

While looking for Spicebush Swallowtail larvae, I spotted this colorful array of insect eggs on a twig

hemipteran eggs and parasitoid wasp 1

It appears as though some parasitoid wasps were first to hatch in this batch of what look like eggs of some Hemipteran bug (perhaps a stink bug)

cvariable oak leaf or double-lined prominent

This is one is tough to identify – either a Double-lined Prominent or a Variable Oakleaf caterpillar (they can look very similar and are both quite variable)

freshly moled luna moth

A luna moth larva just after a molt. This one is feeding on a hickory. instead of the usual Sweetgum

puss nmoth arva next to last instar

A Puss Moth caterpillar (do not touch these as they have painful “stinging” spines hidden under that “fur”). This is probably a next to last instar


One of our most common “stinging” caterpillars, the Saddleback

monkey slug

One of the more bizarre-looking slug caterpillars – the Monkey Slug

Imperial moth early instar

An early instar Imperial Moth larva feeding on American Beech. Will it last until BugFest?

pawpaw sphinx

A brown form of Pawpaw Sphinx on Deciduous Holly

hog sphinx and wasp cocoons

A Hog Sphinx with parasitoid wasp cocoons

drab prominent

The defensive posture of a Drab Prominent on the underside of an American Sycamore leaf

5 thoughts on “Change is in the Air

  1. Interesting post, Mike. I’m just getting my eyes “tuned” for picking out caterpillars. Might you recommend a good field guide?

    Always enjoy your posts: nice photos and informative narratives. Appreciate your efforts!

    Best regards.

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