Caterpillars Galore, a Mushroom, and a Broken Heart

Top Photo: Virginia tiger moth caterpillar. For those who appreciate lepidopteran larvae, last week was caterpillar paradise. Collectively, we rangers found several Virginia tiger moth caterpillars (above and below), a dozen banded sphinx moth caterpillars, a couple of smartweed or smeared dagger moth caterpillars, a southern flannel moth caterpillar and a camouflaged looper. And, thanks to Landscape Tech Jenn we got to see a couple of cauliflower mushrooms. Virginia tiger moth (Spilosoma virginica), also known as yellow bear caterpillar, canRead more


Top Photo: Polyphemus (pol-uh-FEE-muhs) moth cocoon hanging from twig in Earth Moves. Some silk moths spend the winter in cocoons in the leaf liter. Some burrow underground. At least some Polyphemus moths winter as pupa wrapped up and hanging from a twig or branch of their host tree via a peduncle. The further south Polyphemus moths live, the more likely this behavior. Occasionally, though, these hanging cocoons drop off into the leaf liter. The one pictured here was found hangingRead more

Tent Caterpillars

There are two species of moth, among others, which are active now in the form of larvae or caterpillars. They are similar in name and seasonality. They are communal. And, they are both tent caterpillars. The one above, as labeled, is an eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum). The other, is a forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria). These are the hairy caterpillars we humans most often see crawling across sidewalks, driveways, and everywhere else in spring, after having consumed all orRead more

Two Late Larvae

Near the end of the day on October 8, I received a call on my radio¬†from Ranger Gurlal saying that he had found something interesting in Catch the Wind. He didn’t say what it was, only that he wanted me to see it. Several minutes later as Gurlal rounded the bend in the trail, I could see that he had a folded leaf in his hands; there had to be some kind of insect within.Read more