Yellow Flowers, Gray Frogs, and Green Caterpillars.

Top Photo: Crownbeard. Crownbeard is a local herbaceous composite, meaning it grows in the area, has no woody stems or branches and has both disk and ray flowers. I refer to it as the unkempt, or messy sunflower. The flowers seem never to be complete. The ray flowers are uneven in shape, and in most cases are missing many petals Yellow crownbeard (Verbesina occidentalis) is common in the piedmont and can be found along roadsides, edges, and water courses. IRead 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

Three Caterpillars

I’ve had more than a few encounters with caterpillars the past week or two. Here, I’ve photos of three of them. First, the delicate cycnia (Cycnia tenera). It’s common enough and may be seen from June to October in our area. If you have dogbane growing in your immediate area, give a look, you may have either the caterpillars munching on the plant or adults mating or laying eggs on the underside of the leaves. The adults may be seenRead more

A Sphinx Moth

I don’t know what made me look up, pure curiosity I suspect. As I craned my neck upward, a large green caterpillar caught my eye. It was about twelve feet up on the underside of a small twig of an elm tree. It was the end of the day, closing time, and I was walking the boardwalk in Explore the Wild for the final time. Although I couldn’t put a name on it, I immediately recognized the caterpillar. I’d seenRead more

Tussock Moth Caterpillar and a Tiny Wasp

I recently posted about a rustic sphinx moth caterpillar which had attached to it’s body dozens of tiny pupae of a parasitic wasp called a brachonid wasp. These tiny wasps (anywhere from 2 mm to 15 mm) lay their eggs into the bodies of caterpillars. The larvae eat the caterpillar from within and pupate inside tiny white cocoons on the outside of the caterpillar’s body, hanging there like so many banderillas on the back of a bull in the arena, it’s painful and will eventuallyRead more