I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
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- Amphibians (10)
This caterpillar has an interesting profile. I’ve seen caterpillars with enlarged thoracic segments, but I don’t recall ever seeing a geometrid like this. I assume this is a geometrid because it only has two pairs of prolegs.
I was just about to publish this and I decided to look through my copy of Caterpillars of Eastern North America to see if I saw anything similar in the section on geometrids. This is not unlike the caterpillar of the Tulip-tree Beauty (Epimecis hortaria). I’ve never actually seen one of those, even though I often see the adults. Wagner says the odd proportions are distinctive for that species for North America. Perhaps this is a Brazilian species in that genus.
Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.
Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.
All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above.
I might not have noticed this caterpillar during the day, but after dark it stood out in the light of my headlamp.
Despite its defenses, this caterpillars appears to have ended up with some parasite eggs, a tachinid fly perhaps.
Scanning the foliage, I spotted some overturned leaf fragments suspiciously resting on top of the leaves they’d been carved from. Lifting the first one up, I found it was concealing a small caterpillar.
Here’s a leaf fragment concealing another smaller caterpillar. That might be the egg the caterpillar hatched from at the top of the photo.
And here the little inhabitant is revealed. Note the silk used to secure the leaf fragment in place. I like that it was careful to leave a small hinge.
The more I observe nature, the more I realize that parasites rule. So far this trip, I’ve accumulated dozens of photos to prove my point, including the one above.
Believe it or not, this caterpillar was still alive. The parasites, wasps presumably, are long gone.
This caterpillar looks enough like some of my local caterpillars that I can confidently say it’s a prominent moth larva. Its markings camouflage it well as it inserts itself into areas it has eaten.
Commenters had no trouble finding the cryptic critter circled above on a partially eaten leaf. No one figured out that it was a caterpillar though, and a rather bizarre one at that. Here’s a closer look.
It does a pretty good job, I think, of blending in with the damaged areas of the other leaves. I suspect the brown leaf areas were damaged by an earlier instar that chews away at the surface of the leaf rather than eating the entire thing. It looks formidable and I didn’t risk touching it. Those black structures are unlike anything I’ve seen on a caterpillar.
I found this caterpillar last fall. It was munching away on the flowers of what I believe to be wingstem. The plant was growing beside a walking trail at a forest edge.
Here are a couple of other views.
I’m basing the identification on similar photos of Basilodes pepita on BugGuide and in Wagner.
I like the bold colors. Wagner states that the combination of colors, behavior and foodplant suggest it might be unpalatable.
Reference:Caterpillars of Eastern North Americaby David L. Wagner