Sawfly Feast

Top Photo: Sawfly larva on oak leaf (note eight pair of prolegs). I walk by the tree numerous times a day. I knew it was a white oak and I knew it had some sort of leaf miners or skeletonizers actively feeding on the leaves. The leaves were turning a lighter shade of pale from their centers outward. I was tempted to find out what was going on with the tree but didn’t act on it. I didn’t act onRead more

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

A Sphinx

Top Photo: Elm Sphinx caterpillar on elm. Each summer I come across a large green caterpillar in an elm tree overhanging the boardwalk in Explore the Wild, an elm sphinx moth caterpillar (Ceratomia amyntor). This species is also known as four-horned sphinx (tobacco and tomato hornworms are sphinx moths). The elm sphinx I see each year is always in the same elm tree, but I’ve never seen the adult, until this spring. Most adult sphinx moths are cryptically colored inRead more

Caterpillar Time

It’s that time of year again when caterpillars seem to be everywhere. Oh sure, caterpillars can be seen from spring till late fall, sometimes in huge numbers. How can you forget those cankerworms that dangled on silky threads from every tree branch by the thousands, no millions, last April. No, what I’m talking about is the huge variety of species that can be viewed at this time of year. Both moth and butterfly species have been busy all summer producing youngRead more

What’s the Difference?

Top Photo: Sawfly larva or caterpillar? I received an email, with a blurry photo attached, stating that the emailer had taken the photo in Explore the Wild. The subjects in the photo looked to be caterpillars, but may have been sawflies, I couldn’t tell. I had to go look for myself. The email said that the caterpillars, or whatever they were, were on a birch tree on the north side of the Wetlands. There are three birches on the north side ofRead more

Milkweed (Butterfly Weed)

The one, and pretty much only, Butterfly Weed plant out in Catch the Wind is about to cast its seeds to the wind. There are no leaves on the plant, just a bunch of scrawny looking stalks and some seed pods. But don’t pass by that one lonely milkweed plant out in Catch the Wind without stopping to give it the once-over. There are creatures present worth examining. A few weeks back I mentioned here in this Journal that thereRead more

Not a cloud in sight

As I mentioned in a recent post, Cloudless Sulphurs are laying eggs on our Partridge Pea out in Catch the Wind. Partridge Pea is a senna, a legume. If you have it growing in your yard you will have Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars on the plant, it’s a fairly certain thing in our area. The butterfly is common from about mid July to November, most common in August and September, right now! Cloudless Sulphurs presumably get their common name from theRead more

My, how they’ve grown!

A recent post to this Journal featured two caterpillars, one of those was the larva of a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on Partridge Pea in Catch the Wind. On August 2, I noticed one of these large yellow sulphurs lay at least one egg on the plant. Fives days later I saw one, then two, caterpillars munching away on the plant’s flowers. It’s now August 15, and the caterpillars have grown considerably. They will probably crawl off to pupate within aRead more

Two caterpillars of vastly different proportions.

It was only five days after watching a Cloudless Sulphur lay an egg on the Partridge Pea in Catch the Wind that I saw evidence of caterpillars. As I walked by the plants on Tuesday of last week I noticed one of the flowers had been partially eaten. I didn’t have my camera with me (why do I even consider walking the loop without my camera?) but the Otter Box encased iPhone that I had strapped to my belt recordedRead more