Polyphemus Moth caterpillars – week 2

The Polyphemus caterpillars have been ‘eating machines’! In two weeks they’ve doubled in size.

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar at two weeks

Do I dare call them ‘cute’? How about all the red ‘knobs and spikes’? Click the image below for a closer look at their fringed feet (or classy ‘shoes’)! Continue reading “Polyphemus Moth caterpillars – week 2”

Hurray for Moths and National Moth Week!

I haven’t blogged for a while, but I’ve been having fun discovering and learning about moths. I added a moth chart (still in process) to my website with some of the moths I’ve seen, many of them in our backyard.

This week, July 23-31, is National Moth Week, and seems like a fitting time to share my latest moth adventure.

I raised my first Polyphemus moth in 2010, and I recently raised three more. I placed one of the females in a mating cage, hoping she would have a visitor. Indeed she did, and this is a photo of them mating. 

Polyphemus moths mating

Continue reading “Hurray for Moths and National Moth Week!”

Beautiful Imperial Moth emerges

I had fun raising an Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) caterpillar last summer. In September, it stopped eating and disappeared into a large pot of dirt at the back of our house. I’ve been watching it all summer, and was thrilled recently to discover this newly emerged moth.

Imperial Moth (male)

The contrasting brown and yellow markings indicate this is a male. Females appear more yellow, with lighter brown markings. The black object in front of the moth is the hollow pupal case from which it emerged.

I find the whole process amazing. A caterpillar emerged from a tiny egg, ate pine needles and grew to 4 inches. One day it quit eating, went underground, and pupated for the winter. Eleven moths later, it emerged as a beautiful moth. What a story!

Spring butterfly surprise

I had a few butterfly chrysalises from last fall and kept them in the garage all winter. This week I decided it was time to put them outdoors. The next morning, about 10 a.m, I noticed a black swallowtail butterfly had just emerged! The yellow dots indicate it’s a male.

Black Swallowtail 3-27-16Springtime includes many surprises, and a newly emerged butterfly is certainly one of them. I look forward to seeing what other discoveries this season holds.

A caterpillar with red shoes?

Yes, a white fluffy caterpillar with bright-red shoes! This Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta) was just one of several caterpillars we discovered and identified at the recent Caterpillar Weekend at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.

The red ‘shoes’ are actually prolegs. Furthermore, I understand this is one of the stinging caterpillars, although I didn’t touch it to find out.

Spotted Apatelodes caterpillarcaterpillarIt was a treat to find and identify ‘cats’ with other enthusiasts. I continue to be impressed by the wide variety of caterpillars naturalists have documented in the park. My thanks to Brian and Drew for making it a fun learning experience.