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@the_caterpillar_lab The Caterpillar Lab

Fostering appreciation and care for the complex beauty of local natural history with live caterpillar educational programs, research and photography.

@the_caterpillar_lab photos and videos

10 hours ago

Caterpillar of the Day: Weekend Days 219/220⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ It's that time of the year again!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Hickory Tussock Caterpillars, Lophocampa caryae, are showing up across Eastern North America and people are being taken in by their cuddly fluffiness and seemingly sweet demeanors. Unfortunately people are also enduring the occasional itchy rash from getting a bit too hands-on with them!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Please enjoy these native and charming backyard critters, but think twice before handling them - they are best observed but not touched or held unless you know that you (or your kids ) don't generally react to them.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE disregard the sensationalist, overdramatized media coverage these get each year. They are not deadly invaders from the north... we promise!⁠⠀ ---------⁠⠀ • Caterpillar: Lophocampa caryae - Hickory Tussock⁠⠀ • Range: Eastern North America⁠⠀ • Host Plants: A broad variety of woody plants but eggs and young caterpillars perhaps most often found on Hickory, Oak, and Sumac before dispersing more broadly.⁠⠀ • Season: A late summer and fall feeding species.⁠⠀ • Where are they now: Hickory Tussocks overwinter as pupa inside cocoons laced with their irritating hairs and spines.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #hickorytussock #fuzzycaterpillar #lophocampa #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

4503
Yesterday

Caterpillar of the Day: Day 218⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Bailey's Pinion (Lithophane baileyi ), the classic green fruitworm. These caterpillars belong to the early-season wave of larvae in April and May - crucial food sources for migrating birds and other hungry springtime predators. While these caterpillars are widespread across the continent, the western and eastern adult forms can be quite different though they are still categorized as the same species!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Baliey's Pinion, Lithophane baileyi⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: broad generalists on many woody plants, particularly those with early-season flowers, buds, and leaves⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars in the spring⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: these caterpillars spend much of the summer as pre-pupal caterpillars in the soil or leaf litter. They pupate late in the summer and will pass the winter as adult moths!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #lithophane #pinion #lithophanebaileyi #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

3551
2 days ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 217⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We have been trained to think of cycles of growth and reproduction with a definite starting place and a definite end. Perhaps that is why caterpillars have historically received so little attention. They are the middle, the filler, the teenage years that will fade into obscurity. A close look into the natural history of the larva could never illuminate upon the overall nature of a creature. Could it?⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ For the genus Orgyia, it really is all about the caterpillar. The caterpillars are adorned with a wide variety of setae, from venom-covered spikes, to barbed chimneys, to long dense brushes. Acting together the hairs ensure that the caterpillar is well defended against both bird and insect predator. But the caterpillar is not selfish, it shares its valuable defenses with later incarnations of itself. Plucking itself naked, it weaves the defensive hairs into its cocoon to help protect the immobile pupa. Further, the wingless adult female may gain some protection from these hairs, as she never leaves the cocoon's surface as she breeds, lays eggs and eventually dies. The eggs certainly gain some advantage plastered in a clump amongst the previous generation's larval spines. And when the caterpillars hatch, the tiny first instars will rest a while on the protected cocoon before ballooning off into the world in search of food.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ A caterpillar, a lowly larva, something that we often overlook when trying to describe a species, is providing the protection for every other stage in the insects life cycle. How often do caterpillars play such a significant role? Perhaps it is time to reevaluate this in-between creature.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Sam⁠⠀ TCL Director⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

7988
2 days ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 216⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Caterpillar: Northern or Brown-tipped Thorn, Selenia alciphearia⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ Host Plants: Willow, birch, alder, and other deciduous shrubs⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ Range: Northern North America (south to Tennessee )⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ Season: Caterpillars in New England in early summer ⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ Where are they now: many are already pupa in New England, ready to overwinter⠀⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ ⁠⠀⁠⠀ #geometrid #geometer #inchworm #seleniaalciphearia #thorn #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

3352
2 days ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 215⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Fun with Ants and Azures.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Summer Azure caterpillars, Celastrina neglecta, are always a favorite at our traveling exhibit microscope stations. Azures engage in a mutualism with assorted ants, where the caterpillar provides ants with a sugar-liquid treat from a special dorsal gland, and the ants protect them as a valuable resource, defending them from potential predators.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ When collected together with a few tending ants, the caterpillars will continue to provide sugar-liquid for the ants and the ants will continue to guard, and incessantly tickle the caterpillars as we watch under our scopes and project on our screens. I could spend every show just watching the interactions! We look forward to engaging these stories during live outreach programs again next season!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Summer Azure, Celastrina neglecta⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: generalists on many plants; spirea/meadowsweet is a favorite!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Central and Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars in the height of summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: many are still active as caterpillars! ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #butterflies #butterfly #mutualism #azure #celastrina #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

3862
5 days ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 214⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Throughout the month, we'll be highlighting the different life stages of the Pine Devil caterpillar. Citheronia sepulcralis is the Hickory Horned Devil's smaller and lesser known cousin. Like the Horned Devil, it has also disappeared from much of its former range in the Northeast. Where it could once be found in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, now the Pine Devil is solely a creature of more southernly pine barrens. Check back soon for an update on these unique, pine-feeding Saturniidae!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ I used a white background for photographing one of our fresh third instar caterpillars, in hopes of highlighting the wonderful round bobbles that they have mounted on each of their anterior horns.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Pine Devil, Citheronia sepulcralis⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host: Pine, particularly pitch pine⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Southeastern United States⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars through the summer, possible multiple generations in southernmost locations⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: Active as caterpillars in pine barrens!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #silkmoth #saturniidae #pine #devil #citheronia #sepulcralis #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

61610
6 days ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Weekend Days 212/213⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Meet the Unmarked Dagger, Acronicta innotata. The genus Acronicta contains an incredible variety of distinctive caterpillars, displaying a wide range of defensive adaptations. The unmarked dagger is part of a group of daggers that mimic foliage when young, often with reds and yellows that resemble fungal spots or other damage to leaves, and then shed their skin to become bark mimics in their final instar. These instar to instar transformations make the genus exciting to work with as they not only change their dress but also their behavior as they grow.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Unmarked Dagger, Acronicta innotata⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: Birch species (some reported from other hosts, though we have only found A. innotata on birch ) ⁠⠀ -Range: Across the northern US and Canada, south in the East to North Carolina⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars at the height of summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: may be active as caterpillars, or preparing to overwinter as a pupa in a pulpy cocoon of wood and silk.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #dagger #acronicta #mimicry #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

3643
6 days ago

Six #parasitoids a #pollinating ! These parasitoid #tachinid #flies - including the #beautiful yellow striped Belvosia borealis, a specialist on Ceratomia sphinx #caterpillars - were coating a cow parsnip this morning. Though this particular #flower is not a native species, many of these tachinids may act as important #pollinators for other native umbelliferous plants - and some of our crops. These complex #ecological #stories are some of my favorites - think of what’s involved!!! We need a native tree (Ash ) to host a native caterpillar (Waved Sphinx ) to host a native parasitoid (Belvosia borealis ) to pollinate native plants (for instance native cow parsnip - heracleum maximum ). All these things depend on one another. Working to save #Ash trees may be the same thing as working to save #wildflowers . Sam

3798
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 212⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Meet another excellent twig-mimic caterpillar, the Small Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia; also known as the Saddleback Looper ). As extreme generalists, you may find these caterpillars on hemlocks, maples, and everything in between! They provide us with an excellent example of phenotypic plasticity, or the ability to have many different colors and shapes in different locations and on different host plants. Check outside your door this afternoon - these caterpillars are having quite the year, so chances are good that you'll find one!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Small Engrailed (Saddleback Looper ), Ectropis crepuscularia⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: generalists on many woody plants, often hardwoods⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars throughout the summer with multiple generations in most locations⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: active as caterpillars (and possibly moths, depending on location )⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #twigmimic #inchworm #looper #geometrid #ectropis #crepuscularia #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

3293
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 211⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We've talked about the colorful, pastel rainbow of Gray Hooded Owlet (Cucullia florea ) caterpillars before. Today we present the full life cycle (well, excluding the eggs ). Check out the fluffy ruff on that moth - more like a centurion's helmet than a gray hood!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Gray Hooded Owlet, Cucullia florea⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host Plants: Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers, goldenrod, etc. ) - most commonly found on daisy fleabane ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Widespread across much of North America ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars throughout the summer and early fall⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: Active as caterpillars and pupae. As we move into the fall, the last of the caterpillars will begin to pupate underground to overwinter!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #pastel #flowercaterpillar #cucullia #florea #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

4861
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar of the Day: Day 210⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ The Grapevine Epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis ) is another surprising grape and Virginia creeper feeder! This caterpillar is unique in that it is the only member of this genus (Psychomorpha, what a name! ) in the northern U.S. and Canada.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Take a close look at the colors and patterns of this caterpillar; remind you of anyone? These caterpillars belong to a mimicry complex with several other similarly-colored caterpillars including other "foresters:" the Beautiful Wood Nymph (Eudryas grata ) and the Eight-Spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata ). We don't know for sure if any of these caterpillars are poisonous, if only some are, or if they all may be, but their coloration certainly screams "don't eat me!" The Grapevine Epimenis is a shelter-builder, wrapping itself in a leaf-and-silk tent during the day; curious behavior for a warningly-colored caterpillar.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Grapevine Epimenis, Psychomorpha epimenis⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: grape species; commonly Virginia creeper and fox grape⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars in the early summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: these caterpillars will overwinter as a pre-pupal caterpillar in a dense cocoon of wood pulp⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #forester #grapevine #psychomorpha #orange #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

5243
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar of the Day: Day 209⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ In looking through our resources for information about this funky friend, I stumbled upon this treasure from 2015:⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "A poem about [Synchlora aerata], the Camouflaged Looper, posted by TCL friend Alex Gundy. Keep em coming Al!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ At a verdancy invasion,⁠⠀ as a courteous attendant,⁠⠀ she will dress for the occasion,⁠⠀ so respectably resplendent.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ At that mesmerizing marvel,⁠⠀ they'll be stepping in a stupor,⁠⠀ for there's not an insect larval⁠⠀ who's as lovely as the Looper.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Their entrancement is incessant⁠⠀ when they view that vibrant varmint,⁠⠀ for the Looper's luminescent⁠⠀ in her efflorescent garment.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ She's unsettlingly unsightly⁠⠀ to the raptors so rapacious.⁠⠀ But she is, to put it lightly,⁠⠀ unabashedly herbaceous."⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Camouflaged Looper, Synchlora aerata⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: flowers in the Asteraceae (sunflower and daisy ) family⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Eastern North America (with several other species in the same genus found across the continent )⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars through the summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: these caterpillars may be out on flowers, or active as pupa or moths (they can have multiple generations a summer )⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #greenmoth #emerald #decorator #camouflage #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

71513
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar of the Day: Day 208⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ The Wild Cherry Sphinx (Sphinx drupiderarum ) is one of the large, charismatic sphinx caterpillars of the eastern U.S. These bubbly caterpillars have suffered declining populations in the past decade - however, it seems that in recent years there may be a resurgence! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Here are Sam's thoughts after finally seeing a female moth and rearing the caterpillars in 2016: "One of my favorite caterpillars so far this summer, and a species I had been hoping to find and rear ever since finding one at camp as a child. They have become increasingly rare in New England, but our find this spring proves that the Wild Cherry Sphinx is still here!"⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Wild Cherry Sphinx, Sphinx drupiderarum⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: apple and cherry are common among other Rosaceae⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Across North America, generally northern locations⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: Caterpillars in the mid- to late-summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: active as caterpillars⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #sphinx #cherrysphinx #drupiderarum #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

56810
2 weeks ago

“Squeee squeee” Some caterpillars object quite vocally to having their picture taken. Amorpha juglandis, the walnut sphinx, has been studied for its sound making abilities. The sound is produced when they force air out of specially modified “whistling” spiracles. #squee #squeaky #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #video #macrophotography #insectphotography

90751
2 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day: Weekend Days 206/207⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "Meet the Milkweed Tussock, Euchaetes egle.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ As a kid in the suburban outskirts of Boston, I spent a lot of time in the green aqueduct right-of-ways searching for critters. These linear patches of undeveloped and unmanaged land were often lush with milkweed plants. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come that I was always just as excited to find a clump of gregarious milkweed tussock caterpillars shredding milkweed leaves as I was to find a delicately munching monarch caterpillar. Monarch's may claim most of the attention, but starting with milkweed tussocks, I began to notice all of the other insects specialized to use milkweeds. The bright orange aphids, the red and black longhorn beetles, the black-tufted orange Cycnia tiger moths."⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We find that Milkweed Tussocks and the host of other insects who use milkweed (including Monarchs ) happily coexist throughout the summer! These fluffy caterpillars might be voracious, but there is rarely any need to remove them from your milkweed for fear of a limited supply for other creatures!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Milkweed Tussock, Euchaetes egle⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plant: specialist on milkweed species⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Central and Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars in the late summer and early fall⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: active as caterpillars!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #tussock #fuzzycaterpillar #hairycaterpillar #halloween #milkweed #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

6489
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day: Day 205⠀ ⠀ Meet the Checkered-Fringe Prominent, Schizura ipomoeae. Enjoy this wonderful post about these unique caterpillars from our archives:⠀ ⠀ "The long summer has taken its toll on a once lush New England leafscape. What was initially strong, green, and uniform is now decorated with burned, withered edges, pot-marked with spots of fungus and decay, speckled with the galls of tiny insects, and fragmented after a sustained onslaught from a myriad of herbivores. The overall diversity of color and texture in our natural environments increases dramatically with each week that passes.⠀ ⠀ The perfect leaf image that we might hold in our minds rarely exists in nature; instead we find that any stand of late season foliage is a mosaic of consumption and infection. It is in relation to this backdrop that our summer and fall active caterpillars have evolved. Rather than simple, green, larval tubes, we find gnarled and jagged-edged species, covered in blotches of brown, white and black, finely traced with gold veins, and often highly variable in color, from bright green to the deepest reds and oranges.⠀ ⠀ ----⠀ ⠀ I had never fully realized the diversity of our aging forests until I began to know the caterpillars that lived within them. I studied these caterpillars down to their most minute detail, and witnessed how they grew, changed, and interacted with their host plants. Seeing caterpillars in relation to the leaves they feed upon, those leaves to the trees, and finally those trees to the forests and fields, has changed the way I understand the broader, large scale, features of my native landscape."⠀ ⠀ --------⠀ ⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic.⠀ ⠀ #prominent #unicorn #schizura #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectph

6387
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 204⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We've talked about the New England Buckmoth (Hemileuca lucina ) before, so today let's take a look at their full life cycle! These are gregarious caterpillars from the beginning, a cluster of eggs that will hatch and remain together until their later instars. It's a smart strategy for these spicy caterpillars - surrounding yourself with dozens of stinging siblings seems like a surefire way to avoid predators! Gregariousness serves another purpose, too; hatchlings who find a food source can lead their siblings to their first meal! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ So why don't all caterpillars live in helpful, protective groups? There may be a few different answers. A large group of caterpillars can be easy for a predator to find - a predator who tries to eat one venomous caterpillars who cause stinging pain or poisonous, foul-tasting caterpillars will soon learn to look for other prey. Of course, this does little to discourage parasitoids who grow up on or inside the caterpillar - these unique predators help control the populations of caterpillars who would otherwise not be eaten!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Caterpillars might also face environmental challenges. By spreading out their eggs over a much larger space or hatchlings dispersing right away, many moth and butterfly species can ensure that at least some caterpillars can survive local challenges like changes in food availability or disease.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Are there other reasons you can imagine Lepidoptera might have evolved different strategies for spreading out or grouping together?⁠⠀

82913
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day: Days 202 and 203⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Here's another multi-species post to make up for the past two days! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ For Tuesday, July 21st, we featured the White Slant-Line (Tetracis cachexiata ).⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: White Slant-Line, Tetracis cachexiata⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: Very broad generalists on many plants; cherry, apple, and other related plants are common.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Widespread across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars through the summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Where are they now: active as caterpillars⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ For Wednesday, July 22nd, check out the Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar (Limenitis arthemis ). These caterpillars are almost indistinguishable from their cousin, the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus ), though the two can be differentiated by their host plants and their adult forms!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ -Caterpillar: Red-Spotted Purple, Limenitis archippus⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Host plants: Generalists, common on cherry, willow, poplar, and birch.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Range: Widespread across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -Season: caterpillars throughout the summer with multiple generations - the last generation (active between now and the early fall ) will overwinter as a third-instar caterpillar inside a hibernaculum (a rolled piece of leaf ) on a sapling.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

4602
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 201⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "Looper" represents one of the most prevalent difficulties with common names; when we talk about loopers, we may be talking about completely unrelated groups of moths! We often hear "looper" or "inchworm" used to describe geometrid caterpillars, since it really does characterize the way these caterpillars move! However, the "looper" in the Unspotted Looper's (Allagrapha aerea ) name refers to a specific subfamily of noctuid caterpillars, the Plusiinae! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Plusiinae caterpillars can be identified by their common body characteristics - all have reduced prolegs (typically only three pairs rather than the usual five, though one genera has four pairs ) with a gap before the rear prolegs. Geometrid caterpillars, by comparison, typically only have two pairs of rear prolegs. These caterpillars also appear to "loop" and many close cousins of the Unspotted Looper may be familiar to gardeners!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ - Caterpillar: Unspotted Looper, Allagrapha aerea⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Host plants: generalists on many herbaceous plants including asters (sunflowers and others ), and stinging nettle⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Range: Central and Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Season: Caterpillars through the summer with multiple generations in most locations⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Where are they now: caterpillars and moths may both be active depending on location!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #looper #greencaterpillar #allagrapha #aerea #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

4385
3 weeks ago

Join Sam on his latest caterpillaring adventure!

1555
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Weekend Days 199/200⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "One of the first caterpillars I ever reared as a child was a black swallowtail caterpillar brought inside by accident on a fresh crop of garden parsley. The parsley was destined to become part of a pesto dish, but just before being placed in the Cuisinart my mother spotted the swallowtail and the rest is history. Raising that caterpillar inspired a life long love of insects and natural history.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ From pugs on flower bouquets to wooly bears in fire wood, caterpillars just seam to turn up!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Sam⁠⠀ TCL Director"⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ - Caterpillar: Black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Host plants: Apiaceae plants (carrot family ) including parsley, dill, and fennel⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Range: widespread across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Season: caterpillars throughout the summer with multiple generations in most locations⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Where are they now: active in most life stages! These caterpillars will overwinter as pupa in the fall.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #swallowtail #butterfly #blackswallowtail #gardencaterpillar #papiliopolyxenes #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

7417
3 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 198⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Caterpillar: Shagreened Slug Caterpillar; Apoda biguttata⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Host plants: Beech and oak are favorites!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Range: Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Season: Caterpillars in the late summer and fall⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Where are they now: many slug moth species are currently flying and laying eggs - the caterpillars will be soon to follow, if early instars are not already out on trees!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #slugmoth #slugcaterpillar #apodabiguttata #apoda #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

7008
4 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 197⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Callopistria genus caterpillars often come in either red or green color forms - much like the fronds they feed on. The pink-shaded fern moth caterpillar, like its cousins, can be easily found by giving the plant a firm shake over a light-colored sheet during the day, or under a black light at night. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ - Caterpillar: Pink-shaded fern moth caterpillar, Callopistria mollissima⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Host plants: generalists on many fern species⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Range: Eastern North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Season: caterpillars throughout the summer and fall with two generations in New England⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Where are they now: active as caterpillars!⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #fernmoth #pink #callopistria #ferncaterpillar #greencaterpillar #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

4815
4 weeks ago

Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 196⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ The three Pero geometer species native to New England are excellent twig-mimics, but they can be very difficult to tell apart, especially as caterpillars! The adult moths are unique among geometrids; rather than holding their wings flat, these moths will "wrinkle" their wings. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ -------⁠⠀ - Caterpillar: Pero Geometer (Pero sp. )⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Host plants: generalists on many woody plants⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Range: Widespread across North America⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Season: Caterpillars in the spring through mid-summer⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ - Where are they now: Many of these caterpillars have already pupated in New England. They will likely have another generation here, though further north they may be restricted to one generation a year.⁠⠀ --------⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #geometrid #geometer #pero #twigmimic #inchworm #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography

5613