So this weekend, when I put up the umbrella on the patio table I noticed that there was a rather large caterpillar slowly crawling around on it.
I managed to get one or pictures of it, and noticed that it was extremely fuzzy and had a distinct alternating series of bristles. Since these types of caterpillars usually have nettle hairs (that usually are hidden)—and can causes rashes if they come into contact with skin.
I’ve noticed over the years that my skin has gotten a little more sensitive to certain things and that it doesn’t take much for me to break out in a rash (luckily the rash disappears within a couple of hours)—therefore I just let this particular caterpillar make its own way off the umbrella.
Since there are quite a few different species of moths and possibly a few butterflies that have hairy caterpillars—I can’t say for certain what the ‘adult’ version of this caterpillar is. Though it probably is a member of the Lymantriinae subfamily of moths (belonging to the family Erebidae). These are large moths, and while the adults don’t feed (they only breed and then die), the caterpillars are known to be pests and are considered pests as they have a broad range of host plants (including trees and shrubs to vines, herbs, and grasses).
It will be interesting to see in the spring what type of large moths I see around the yard and if I can then match a picture of the moth to those online and hopefully also match it to caterpillar. But since it is late in the year—I’m going to hazard a guess that this is the caterpillar of the pale tiger (or banded tussock) moth.
So the winner for today’s photography challenge is the little white hairy caterpillar that was crawling around the bottom of the bug repellent (that had obviously been knocked over).
Since we live next to a creek, and probably less than a block from some undeveloped areas we usually get caterpillars coming through the yard on a daily basis. Not many of them make it up to the table, but some do and usually I help them on their way.
So I’m not an entomologist by any stretch of the imagination, so if it is an unknown bug I will either turn to google or ask my cousin (who is an entomologist). Well today I decided to try my hand at google to figure out what type of moth or butterfly this was going to be changing into.
It turns out that this probably a fall webworm caterpillar. So this little guy at one point was up in a tree in a “web” with hundreds of it’s relatives. The caterpillar stage for this particular species lasts about four to six weeks–which means that by September it is going to try to find an area around a tree to spin it’s cocoon for the winter.
While their webs/nests are unsightly in the trees, they’re not killing the tree and I’m sure that there are industrious birds trying to figure out how to get through the webbing and feast on all those little caterpillars.
I might have to try and spot some of the tent caterpillars and see if I can get a picture for comparison.
So today’s winner of the photography challenge was the fuzzy, little caterpillar that I brushed off my leg when sitting outside.
I’ve always heard the old tales that fuzzy caterpillars were a sign that the winters were going to be really bitter and cold. Since this is the first one I’ve seen so far, I don’t know how much I’m going to believe that tale (until I start seeing quite a few of them).
I’ve always been curious to know what type of moth or butterfly different caterpillars change into, and so far I haven’t been able to identify the “adult” version of this caterpillar.
Hopefully it isn’t one that is going to strip the leaves off any of the trees or build the really ugly silk tents in the trees (as they strip off the leaves).
Once I’m able to figure out the adult/mature version of the caterpillar I will be back to update the blog post.