Saturday, August 28, 2010
I was super excited to see this caterpillar, a Monkey Slug, Phobetron pithecium and I had told John Howard my wish to see one. Sure enough, there was one just waiting for us to discover it. My photos were not so good, so this one is John's photo. It does look just like a mini-toupee`and supposedly it mimics the cast skin of a tarantula. It will become this moth that has strange furry legs.
This caterpillar amazed me. It looks just like the edge of a torn leaf. Such great camouflage. This is a Double-lined Prominent, Lochmaeus bilineata. It will become this moth, if it makes it to adulthood.
I have been wanting to see a Spiny Oak Slug caterpillar for some time now. So freaking cool! The crazy colors and all those spines. And, yes people, they do sting! Anyway the Spiny Oak Slug, Euclea delphinii, will become this moth decorated with cool patches of green.
One of my favorites...Giant Swallowtail or Orange Dog caterpillar, Papilio cresphontes. It will become one of the most beautiful butterflies out there. Yes, it is a bird poop mimic. But it also has a defense of a bright red osmeterium that the caterpillar will rear back and whip out at the predator's eyes. Looks almost like a snake's tongue. Check it out on a previous post.
All these caterpillars and many more were found last weekend after dark. Go outside and find some of these amazing critters!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
There are over 20 stations to visit with lots of things to do and see. One that will be here this year is the scorpions. (No, not the band The Scorpions, though that would be cool, too. :) Some of the scorpions floresce, giving off a eerie blue color, when viewed with UV light.
For the brave ones, check out the Taratula Teacher, Barbara Reger. She brings an extensive collection of live tarantulas and some will be able to see what it feels like to hold one. Cool stuff!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
And here is a photo that I found on BugGuide, showing the wasps emerging from the cocoons. The top of the silken cocoon pops open and out comes an adult braconid wasp. What really goes on in the insect world is much crazier than any far-fetched science fiction movie. Truly amazing!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
While we were there the previous day on a scouting trip, we found what looked like a crazy caterpillar. I, at first, wondered if it had woolly aphids attached to it, but later figured out that was not correct. (Harvester caterpillars do so to fool ants that protect the aphids. You can read more about that here.) I also soon realized it was not a caterpillar at all. It was a sawfly larvae. Sawfly larvae can be identified by counting the prolegs on the critter, the fleshy feet that are behind their six true legs. Caterpillars, larvae of moths and butterflies, have six true legs and five or fewer pairs of prolegs. Sawfly have six true legs and six or more pairs of prolegs. It will usually look like a sawfly has legs continuously down the length of its entire body.
Photo by Scott Hogsten
Why is it called a sawfly? This photo shows the ovipositor or egg-layer of the female sawfly. It looks like a miniature saw. The female will saw a small slit into a leaf and lay an egg. When the young emerge, they will feed on the leaves. The young prefer butternut and walnut tree leaves, and will occasionally feed on hickories.
After searching BugGuide, I found out it is a Butternut Woolly Worm. It will turn into this lovely sawfly with a shiny black body and white legs. The white extensions are a waxy secretion. I couldn't find out much about the secretion to see if it was bad tasting or had defense properties, but I will keep looking. Very strange creature!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
You can also see the planets Mars, Venus and Saturn line up, sort of. They will be all together in a cluster in the western/southwestern sky. Look toward the moon to find them. They should be right above its crescent.