Transitions, Variations, and Life & Death

Top Photo: Tobacco hornworm on tomato plant. The tobacco hornworm, or Carolina sphinx, and tomato hornworm, or five-spotted hawk moth, both use nightshade as a food plant including tomato and tobacco plants. And, they’re both subjected to attack by a tiny parasitoid wasp called a braconid wasp. With the help of her ovipositor, the minuscule wasp lays eggs just under the skin of the caterpillar. The eggs hatch and the larvae begin eating the caterpillar from within. When the timeRead more

Green Stripes

Alerted by the frass at my feet, I looked up into the maple tree branches over my head. It didn’t take me long to locate the source of the frass. Two green-striped mapleworms. Frass is caterpillar poop. If you enjoy finding caterpillars it’d be wise to keep an eye out for frass. If there’s frass on the ground, there’ll be a caterpillar, or a group of caterpillars, feeding above. Green-striped mapleworms are the caterpillars, or larvae, of rosy maple moths.Read more

Another Sphinx, an Odd-named Butterfly and a Homegrown Mantid

Top Photo: Male zabulon skipper. While walking through Catch the Wind I noticed a bit of frass on the pavement. The frass (caterpillar poop) was below a volunteer sapling ash tree at the edge of the path. After a frustrating five or ten minutes of searching I found the originator of the frass.     I had already suspected who the culprit was, having seen one at this very location, on this very same tree, a year ago. A few days back, I posted about aRead more

Birds, Insects, Reptiles and Mammals Too!

If you keep your eyes and ears opened while hiking the Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind Loop you’re likely to see and hear all sorts of wonderful sights and sounds. Birds that have spent the winter in the tropics are back home and full of song. Insects that have spent the last few months or longer in pupal or larval states are entering the next phase of their lives. Reptiles are taking advantage of locally plentiful food andRead more

The Harvester

Just a few weeks ago I posted about woolly aphids on the Hazel Alder here in our Wetlands. In that post I mentioned the possibility of Harvesters, the only North American carnivorous butterfly, making an appearance. Well, they have arrived…at least in caterpillar form. Of course, for the caterpillars to be here there had to have been a butterfly present at some point to lay eggs. It must have done its egg laying while I was making the rounds, becauseRead more

Turning the Corner

Although it’s September, it was more than two weeks ago that I began to feel the change. Something was different. Oh sure, the temperatures were in the eighties for a few days and it felt really, really nice, but that’s not what I mean. We’ve crossed a line, internal triggers have been tripped, a biological turning point has been reached. The wildlife can feel it, the trees are reacting to it, and I feel it too. It’s not fall butRead more

First Cicada Killer, Milkweed Leaf Beetles, and some Leps

The Annual Cicadas have come into full song. Not surprising, the first Cicada Killer of the season was seen on July 8th while I Explored the Wild with a group of Museum Summer Campers. The large wasp was spotted on the rocks just outside the entrance to the Lemur House and was in the same location as one of its kind last year at this time (see Cicada Killer, July 1-15, 2008). These wasps are intimidating for their large size,Read more