thebluehue22: nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist:…

thebluehue22:

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WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS??

Millions of tiny mystery caterpillars -_-
What do they eat? WHO KNOWS???
What do they turn into? HELL IF I KNOW

Eggs were covered in white fuzz from mamas belly and they have five pairs of prolegs, egg mass was on live oak. I gave them the Polyphagous Caterpillar Variety Pack buffet (rose, live oak, hackberry, and sage). They should eat ONE of those.

Tiny mystery babs are the WORST because how do you keep them in a habitat??? They are SO SMOL. They’re in a lidded food container for now… hopefully they eat everything and grow very large

October 7, 2018

OKAY results of the taste test are in. They are delicious. Wait no that’s not what I meant!!

They nibbled all the plants, but they’re going nuts over rose leaves. So, that’s what they get!

October 8, 2018

The very hungry caterpillars

They are only eating rose, and they have tiny adorable spots. I think they may be tortricid moths.

October 9, 2018

Their hunger is endless

Getting big! Eating the flowers and making pink rose poops 😂

October 12, 2018

#you lucky bastard #where do you keep finding all these babies

In my yard! (with one two exceptions). My recommendation for improving your moth egg/caterpillar-finding skills: 

(1) Get a good headlamp
(2) Go outside at night

It helps if you have access to an area that is somewhat “wild,” which for me is my yard. It can also be a neighborhood hiking trail or the ditch a couple blocks from your home. I don’t treat anything with pesticides, and I’ll let random weeds pop up and do their thing. In many cases, weeds are just native wildflowers, which means they are often the preferred food for lots of insects. Or, you can have a regular garden where you grow vegetables, flowers, bushes, ground cover, trees, etc, but just don’t use pesticides. This includes the whole “spraying the plant with soap” thing. That kills insects, which is why it keeps them from eating your plants.

Most moths and caterpillars are active at night. I frequently find moths in the act of laying eggs (I found a Polyphemus moth laying eggs on the side of my house, when I brought her inside and she blessed me with abundant green squishy babs). ALSO, caterpillars and moth/butterfly eggs are often very well camouflaged, and on the underside of leaves. During the day, they are all backlit and effectively become invisible. At night? They’re no longer backlit, and you have the benefit of shadows and superior color perception to find them. Other clues: piles of caterpillar poops, nibbles at the edges of leaves (or missing leaves entirely)

One more tip: Go outside, at night and during the day, and look for bugs every day. I don’t find eggs or caterpillars every time I go outside.  But I go outside so often that I’m bound to find something.

October 13, 2018

Only issue is I actually do keep my plants for them to be thriving and healthy, so this many caterpillars eating my single rose plant would be very detrimental. =/

These are very good concerns to have! I will say, the more “wild” and the less pesticide you use, the less damage a hoard of caterpillars can do to your plants. Unless you get hit by an invasive species, you will never have this many caterpillars on your flowers. 

Reasons!
(1) A healthy ecosystem is balanced. In a healthy ecosystem, you will never have more plant-eating animals than your plants can support, because they will be predated by animal-eating-animals. The reason moths and butterflies lay SO MANY EGGS is because the chances any of them will make it is so small that they have to.
(2) Fate! These eggs were on the underside of a live oak leaf 6 ft off the ground, at the time of year in Texas when it still gets into the 90′s every day. The rose bush is very large and not very close to where the eggs were laid. Any babs who did not instantly get eaten by spiders, ants, wasps, assassin bugs, lady bugs, etc., would likely have shriveled up and died in the hot Texas sun. The few survivors who DID make it to the rose bush would hardly make a dent in it.

I have a passion vine in the back yard, which attracted Gulf Fritillary butterflies eager to lay a million eggs. I also had milkweed for Monarchs and Queens. I had to bring in every single egg/baby pillar I found because they would be taken by wasps within a day of hatching if I didn’t. Every time I watered my garden, I would find several lady wasps wandering around all my plants looking for baby food. Very interesting to see them go straight for the “good” plants. Right now, the weather is starting to cool down a big, and the wasps are slowing down their serious egg-laying duties. This means: for the first time, the Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are able to survive long enough to pupate. And the damage they are doing to my passion vine? There is no damage, really. For every leaf they chew off, the vine starts growing a new branch. It’s getting ridiculous.

If you have a valuable plant, it’s okay to treat it to keep it safe. It’s not necessary to treat your entire yard with pesticide, and pesticides will kill the pollinators who help your plant produce fruits and seeds. Another consideration: there may be some pesticide-resistant insects who can damage your plants, but the pesticide will kill the insects who would otherwise be eating them and controlling them naturally.

October 13, 2018