Incoming: A “different” kind of caterpillar!

I am overjoyed and elated to announce these beautiful eggs, which I found in some elderberry leaves I was about to feed the cecropias (elderberry is popular!)

And yes, I said in the leaves. Look closer:

Here you can see each egg underneath a thin membrane of leaf tissue. What kind of insect lays its eggs inside the leaves? Lots of them, but one, in particular, has been hanging out on the elderberry plant for over a week straight, loving life and drinking elderberry nectar whenever she wants:

It wasn’t until I uploaded photos to iNat that I realized she could have been the mother, since I thought she was a wasp I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t too far off: she is a hymenopteran, like wasps, but she is a SAWFLY. My friends over on iNat have identified her as being in genus Macrophya, and three species in Texas feed on elderberry. So I was right about my hunch that the eggs were sawfly eggs, even if I didn’t realize their mom was still hanging out in my elderberry bush!

The photos above were from Saturday. On Sunday, guess what?

An eye!!!

I’ve talked about sawfly larvae before, and how they look very similar to caterpillars (they are often confused). I’ve attempted to rear them before (a different species) when I had an infestation on a vine in my yard, but I’ve never found eggs before. Exciting! I just need to make sure they don’t destroy my elderberry bush, the cecropias have dibs!

March 31/April 1, 2019

The Hatchening

Oh! Where is the baby?!

Here’s a nibble, he can’t be far. Let’s turn over the leaf. Maybe he’s hiding.

!!!!!!!!!! A baby!!!!!!

He very much wanted to be hiding, so he was very crawly when I was looking at him. See how tiny??!

He’s making a grand escape!

I went to get some fresh leaves for him, and figured I may as well bring in some of his siblings (I know his mom left a ton of eggs back there). I stopped myself at ten.


April 2, 2019

It’s Raining Sawflies

So, every time I get elderberry for the cecropias, I end up finding a handful more sawfly eggs. I have at least 20 now, and they are all starting to hatch! The babies prefer to stay curled up in a little spiral under the leaves, but as soon as I pick them up for photoshoots, they uncurl and run away. The first baby is HUGE now!

April 4/5, 2019