Finding Caterpillars of the Moth Variety
The cooler, autumn temperatures mean that we are spending significantly more time in the garden and it is an excellent time to go exploring. In the past two weeks our boys have found several extraordinary species of moths in their larval stage.
|white flannel moth caterpillar on redbud tree|
We identified this one as the white flannel moth caterpillar (Norape ovina). It probably doesn't feel much like flannel and we're not about to touch it since it is a stinging caterpillar. It would be quite painful if you brushed against those clumps of short hairs covering its side and back and long hairs extruding from its body.
|American Dagger Moth on Redbud|
|Pawpaw Sphinx caterpillar on Holly 'Winter Gold'|
Based on posts on Facebook and talking to fellow Master Gardeners the saddleback caterpillars (Acharia stimulea) are having a boom year. We found several on our coral honeysuckle plant. They are generalist so they feed on a variety of garden plants including aster, blueberry, buttonbush, maple, oak apple, cabbage and citrus.
|Saddleback caterpillar on coral honeysuckle|
I often wonder when we find new species of insects in our garden if they were always there but our eyes hadn't been trained to find them yet or if they found our garden due to our habitat restoration efforts. Either way, they are a reassuring sign. I encourage everyone to get out in your garden or local park and check the underside of leaves and see what you find. Happy exploring!