|Marj Rines assists a Cecropia moth caterpillar onto a cherry leaf|
|Large and colorful Cecropia moth caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia)|
Caterpillars thrive in the diversity of edge habitats, so we spent considerable time exploring the borders of the refuge parking lot for munching inhabitants.
During Sam's introduction, a hummingbird clearwing moth flew into the foliage of a nearby Viburnum shrub. Sam announced that "she" was looking to lay an egg, and that instant she did!
|Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) egg on arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)|
Here is a sampling of other parking lot marvels that we discovered, first in the forested areas...
|Yellow-shouldered slub caterpillar covered with just hatched parasatoid wasp larvae|
|Red-spotted purple caterpillar (Limenitis arthemis) on mid-vein tip of cherry leaf. Note detritis "packet" below caterpillar and vein tip extension (from cemented line of its own fras or excrement) above|
...then along the marsh at the base of the observation tower...
|Tented enclosure of a silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) caterpillar on leaf surface of the ubiquitous showy tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense), with an early stage caterpillar inside|
|Hog sphinx (Darapsa myron) caterpillar, just prior to shedding, on the underside of fox grape leaf|
|Galls on small quaking aspen made by larvae of poplar petiole gall moth (Ectoedemia populella)|
|Four-horned sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor) caterpillars|
|Sam returning caterpillars to the underside of their preferred elm leaves|
|Smartweed caterpillar which becomes the smeared dagger moth (Acronicta oblinita)|
While Sam highlighted the search images, or visual cues, for many of the caterpillars we were seeking, we had a sharp-eyed group of explorers who spotted many of the camouflaged creatures.
|Red-humped caterpillars (Schizura concinna) eating false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)|
|Vertically folded enclosure of the red admiral butterfly caterpillar (Vanessa atalanta) found on false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica)|
The most beguiling caterpillar one can meet, along the Dike Trail, hides disguised as a flower. The camouflaged looper, caterpillar of the wavy-lined emerald moth. These tiny loopers adorn their backs with flower petals, then take position on that same flower looking first like a fresh and then fading bit of the blossom. The slightest irregularity in a flower's characteristic pattern is the clue to its presence. We spotted several on both fleabane and blue vervain flowers.
|Adorned looper completes the blooming sphere around a blue vervain spire where it harvested flowers for its costume. Photo © Kristine Ferrigno 2013|
|Another looper takes position on a daisy fleabane blossom|
Finally at the river, along the edge of the floodplain forest, we found blackberry loopers, posing as short stems in the goldenrod flowers...
|Two blackberry loopers (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria) pose as green vertical stems on goldenrod. Photo © Kristine Ferrigno|
Our caterpillar foray was punctuated by a few additional wild highlights rarely seen when walking the Dike Trail...
|Tiny gray tree frog clinging to rough surface of elm leaf|
|Black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) with wrapped prey|
|Eastern amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera), photo © Kristine Ferrigno|
Join us on our next Caterpillar Foray at Great Meadows with Sam Jaffe on Saturday, September 7, from 1-3:30 pm, $25 registration. For registration details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Cherrie at 978-760-1933.