Some Early September Sights

As you well know (if you’ve been following this blog) caterpillars tend to show up more frequently from late summer into fall. It’s not so much that there are more of them, but that the larger species are maturing, their frass more visible on the ground beneath the trees and shrubs that they’re feeding on, and many of them are hustling across the paths on their way to finding a safe place to pupate over the coming winter.

Here’s a few of the most recently observed species, along with a few other members of different phylums, orders, or families of the animal kingdom.

v oakleaf cat
This appears to be a Variable Oakleaf Caterpillar (Lochmaeus manteo) based on the head pattern and diffuse blueish area below the white line that runs down the length of the body.
am dagger
On the underside of a maple leaf, an American Dagger Moth (Acronica americana) sheds its old skin for new (the old skin is yellow).

And, brought in from home by Uli, Director of the Butterfly House…

A Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa), a hornworm. Tersas can be brown or green.
If it has a “horn” near its rear end, it’s a hornworm or sphinx moth caterpillar.

A sphinx moth larva can be recognized by the “horn” on the eighth abdominal segment of the body (near the rear). Some have only a small nub, but most of this group of large caterpillars have a prominent spike.

The moth that this large caterpillar will become is quite elegant, have a look.

Dragonfly numbers have decreased in the past few weeks. Common Whitetail, Eastern Amberwing, Blue Dasher, and Great Blue Skimmer are the most often seen local dragons, along with a few apparently migrant Black Saddlebags and Common Green Darners. Orange Bluets, Fragile Forktails, and what looks to be Familiar Bluets are the damselfly lingerers.

A Common Whitetail perches just off the boardwalk in the Wetlands.
snapper and odes
Up for a breath of air, a Common Snapping Turtle has an unexpected visitor, an Eastern Amberwing has perched on its nose. An unknown damselfly to its right wonders if there’s room for it to perch.

And finally, a bird.

Our resident female Belted Kingfisher surveys the area for any fish close enough to the water’s surface to have a stab at.

And that’s just some of early September’s goings on, out-of-doors at the Museum.

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