Friday, October 26, 2007

Caterpillars

There were not any caterpillars out today unless they were SCUBA qualified. As happened last year (see the entry), rain appeared (yes, we're in a drought) on the first day of Boo in the Swamp and washed it out. Tomorrow, the promised sunshine should return and all will be spooky in the swamp!

Earlier this week, visiting students spotted a variety of caterpillars. This was a big deal for us, because we haven't seen many caterpillars this year. Normally, the outbreak of Eastern Tent Caterpillars defoliate large sections of the swamp and rain frass down on unsuspecting students and visitors. Frass is the scientific word for poop and caterpillars manufacture large quantities of the tiny, black pellets. However, this year we had a late frost just as the 1-inch caterpillars were making their initial assault. Since that frost, caterpillars have scarcely been seen.

The caterpillars shown are: the Purple-crested Slug (Adoneta spinuloides), which is the small green, slug-like caterpillar; Red-humped Oakworm (Symmerista canicosta), which has the red humps; the Pale Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris), which has the black tussocks (hair-like projections); and the yet-to-be-identified orange caterpillar, which appears to be a type of dagger moth. Soon these caterpillars will create a cocoon (or a chrysalis if they are a butterfly) and overwinter in anticipation of their metamorphosis to a flying adult in the spring.

1 comment:

WebMosaic said...

Caterpillars were really my favorite pets when I was younger! I loved them until they grew up and flew away! But those were the days now we're all grown up and have kids.


:)
-Kelly