Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Attack of the Caterpillars *


The last couple of weeks have given us a small reprieve from the rainy days this summer has been filled with (tho’ it’s raining again as I write, boo), leaving us with the sun shining and temperatures in the 80’s. Maybe that’s why we’ve also had an explosion of insect activity literally outside our doors.

Remember that patch of zinnia’s reaching for the sky in our front bed? It’s turned out to be a favorite spot for butterflies of all kinds. I spent a few hours on this website channeling Gerald Durrell and trying my best to identify the ones I was able to capture on film, like a proper amateur naturalist.

Family Nymphalidae

Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)

Painted Lady  (Vanessa cardui)

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Family Papilionidae

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail  (Papilio glaucus)

Family Hesperiidae

 Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

These are Skippers of some kind. Most are pretty rare here, so I’m guessing they are Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)

Out the back door hosts of caterpillars have taken over our azalea bushes, munching whole branches down to nubbins. At first we thought they must be the larval form of one or more of the butterflies out front, but turns out they are actually moths.

Family Notodontidae

Azalea Caterpillar (Datana major)

And remember the fuzzy pale yellow caterpillar that photo bombed my Fall shoot around this time last year? I just had to figure out what it was while I was at it.

Family Noctuidae

American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana)

I gave up trying to figure this one out, though it sure is interesting looking. It’s got kind of a Halloween vibe going on.

Off site, K found one of these at his work, literally the length of his thumb.

Family Saturniidae

Spiny Oakworm Moth (Anisota stigma)

Photo by Dave Wagner

When they mature they turn into the big fuzzy orange moths we see around here in the fall.

The weird thing is that we haven’t found any chrysalides (yes, this is the plural form of chrysalis, I checked!) yet so I’m not sure where they are high tailing it to transform into their winged selves. I wonder what Gerald would have to say about that.

* This post dedicated to my nephew Lincoln, who among other ambitions, has considered entomology.

** Weren’t the last two posts fun? I loved seeing the contrast of East Twin & West Twin styles. It’s what this blog is all about.

9 Responses to “Attack of the Caterpillars *”

  1. nerponline

    These creatures are so interesting looking if not beautiful and even spectacular. I have not heard the conventional evolutionary answer to the question why these guys can be highly obvious to predators while other ciritters camouflage themselves. I kinda think they become so striking because they LIKE being pretty.

  2. Sandra Hallsted

    I love your post!!! And share your amateur naturalist leanings. I think it nice that you planted those zinnias and found so many rewards for it!

    • oami powers

      Jacquelyn & Sandra – thank you! It does feel like we are being paid back in spades for tossing a few seeds out (these are all from seeds K saved from last year’s crop too). They are as tall as me!

  3. Ursula

    Fun post .. Oami the other day I came home and gasped (nearly threw up too) at the site of this banana slug size caterpillar eating the rest of a tomato plant. It had eaten almost everything. I looked it up and found out its a Tomato worm .. Turns Into a tomato moth. Ghastly looking specimen.


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