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.
Peek-a-boo look at a last instar Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in it folded leaf lair (click photos to enlarge)
While looking for Spicebush Swallowtail larvae, I spotted this colorful array of insect eggs on a twig
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)
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)
A luna moth larva just after a molt. This one is feeding on a hickory. instead of the usual Sweetgum
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
One of the more bizarre-looking slug caterpillars – the Monkey Slug
An early instar Imperial Moth larva feeding on American Beech. Will it last until BugFest?
A brown form of Pawpaw Sphinx on Deciduous Holly
A Hog Sphinx with parasitoid wasp cocoons
The defensive posture of a Drab Prominent on the underside of an American Sycamore leaf