Category: caterpillars

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Mystery Tussock Moth caterpillar livepost continues! Unsettling egg raft and hatching photos over here (trypophobia warning!)[link] 

The babes are still pretty small, but oh boy they are HUNGRY. Their poops changed color from yellow to the standard green color. They are escape artists and I have to continually put them back into their habitat when I’m feeding them (I use a paintbrush to move them, very convenient!), and there are SO MANY of them. 

September 8, 2018

They are still so tiny but SO FURRY!! Look at all that FLUFF!! These babes are a pain in the butt and are constantly trying to escape. I can’t wait for them to get bigger and fluffier.

September 9, 2018

First Molt Underway

Prepare for

The Fluffening

Their head capsule includes the earmuff dongles I’m d y i n g

September 10, 2018

First Molt Complete

Still no idea who they are!

I did an enclosure change today. How do you move hoardes of tiny caterpillars, you ask?

See related video, Painting by Caterpillar: Tussock moth

September 11, 2018

They’re perfect

Starting to look a little more tussocky! Still very small.

September 12, 2018

I have been a bad caterpillar liveposter, BUT these things have molted a second time and they are still almost impossible to see without a microscope.

If anything, the fluffier they get, the harder they are to see!

These are from last night :X

September 15, 2018

They are taking forever and I’m impatient.

This one hadn’t moved in three days or so. Turns out he was just molting??? (That’s his old skin next to him)

September 25, 2018

I guess they’re a little bigger?

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Also, those hairs?

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Don’t touch! The fluffy looking hairs have a strange texture, and they may be the irritating hairs that can cause allergic reactions. I really need to read up on stinging caterpillar anatomy!

October 2, 2018

Are you ready?

I love them 😭

October 11, 2018

I think we have an ID!

Looks like a Yellow-banded Tussock Moth! Still need to see the adults to know for sure, but these babs match the photo in the caterpillar guide perfectly!

October 15, 2018

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturali…

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

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

Starting to look like somebody!

Hmmmm these look like armyworms…..

They are growing VERY fast! Shouldn’t be long before I know for sure.

October 14, 2018

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Ready for another caterpillar flavor? I found a Polyphemus moth laying eggs on the side of my house. Brought her inside, put her in an enclosure while I grabbed a paper bag (easier to collect eggs on paper!!!), and she laid FIVE eggs in the 10 seconds it took me to get back to her.

Last year, I struggled with keeping my Polyphemus babes fed, since the trees they eat were not abundant in my yard (they ate all the little saplings down to sticks!). But this year, I anticipated Good Moth Luck, and have let all the elm saplings get big and tall regardless of how inconveniently placed they are. And here we are! 😀

August 31, 2018

Guess who’s here?

Mama moth laid 90 eggs and thankfully I was able to give away most of them. I kept 20 eggs for myself, and they started hatching this morning. Exciting!!

September 8, 2018

My fat babies 😭

I gave away 5 more eggs, and three have yet to hatch, so only 12 caterpillars right now. Much easier than 90!!

September 10, 2018

Newborn Alert!

Compare the size of a newly hatched baby pillar with her two-day-old siblings.

September 10, 2018

Baby’s First Molt

You can see his old face is starting to come off! Exciting!

September 11, 2018

Molting underway!

Fresh new clothes! In the top photo, you can see the baby’s old skin behind him (it’s the dry yellow thing). In the bottom photo, you can see all their discarded head capsules (I circled them). I collect caterpillar faces!

Remember: they are four days old at this point.

September 12, 2018

Gaze upon my large children

September 13, 2018

Oops forgot to post these yesterday!! Got distracted by BIRD NONSENSE

I probably need to feed them again. They are eating machines!!!

September 15, 2018

Important new development: Hairy Toes

September 20, 2018

The molting and cuteness are everlasting. Soon they will have their walrus mustaches.

September 22, 2018

The bigger they get, the sillier their molt dance gets. Check out the complete celebratory ridiculousness here [link to previous post]

Wow wouldn’t it be nice if I could post a video reblog on mobile?!

September 23, 2018

Important

Big n’ fat

September 25, 2018

Absolute Units

These were taken over the course of the past few days (time to retag these as “caterpillar laterposts”?), but as you can see, they are now LORGE. The last photo is a big fat baby molting again to become bigger and fatter.

On Monday, I’m bringing them to a school, where a class of VERY lucky 1st graders gets to MEET THEM and WATCH THEM POOP. Speaking of which, stay tuned because I have the action-gif of the poopening photo third from the bottom.

September 29, 2018

Polyphemus caterpillars: unanimously approved by 25 six-year-old humans

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Yesterday, I brought four of the fatties to Cedar Creek Elementary school where they got to meet a class of 1st graders who are learning about insects. One of them was molting! One of them pooped, they were fat and eating and the kids LOVED them. They kept asking: “Are these REAL?!” You bet!!

I also brought the microscope and showed them some caterpillar faces! Photos above are from yesterday.

And today?

image
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image

They grow. Larger and larger!

October 2, 2018

*heavy breathing*

October 3, 2018

Poopin’

October 4, 2018

I’m in love

October 4, 2018 (pm)

Faterpillar Apocalypse

October 6, 2018

How are they not making cocoons yet?!

LOOK HOW FAT

LOOK

October 8, 2018

STOP THEM

Like my new mustache?

October 8/9, 2018

Squeeze gently to check for ripeness.

Ah, yes. Almost ready.

(Where are my cocoons already?!)

October 9, 2018

It is time

The prophesy is realized. As it was foretold,

R O U N D B O Y

has arrived

This prepupal green sausage is making THE FIRST COCOON!!!

October 10, 2018

There are now three cocoons

Top: the first cocoon, babby sewed some leaves to the side the their home so you can see the “naked” cocoon side. They don’t always hide in leaf cocoons, but it’s very common and a good camouflage strategy.

Bottom: the second cocoonis completely enclosed in leaves. The third cocoon looks the same.

The caterpillars were huge, so these cocoons must be MASSIVE, right??

Nope! Check it out:

You remember the first bab got SO FAT WHY? They squeeze themselves like an accordion before they make their cocoon and pupate inside. Adult moths look way bigger than they actually are thanks to their wings. Polyphemus moths are pretty big anyway, but the cocoon and pupa are only about a large as the moths body, the wings are just tiny inflatable flaps until they emerge and pump them up.

Only 9 more to go!

October 12, 2018

Only 3 caterpillars left!

Currently, 9 babies are tucked away in their cocoons. Look how cozy! The three remaining sausages are being their typical ridiculous selves. For example, this:

I mean, sure, this is how I eat my breakfast, too.

October 14, 2018

Regular

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A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

My banana pepper was prepupal this morning! Look at that adorable pink blush! ☺️

The enclosure I put him in was apparently not up to his standards, because he made an attempt to bury himself and gave up. So I filled a large bowl up with several inches of soil and relocated him.

I went to the kitchen to grab my breakfast, then went back to check on him.

There he goes!!!

Sphinx moth caterpillars burrow into the soil, and create a dirt-cocoon which looks like a little cave. This bab is late enough in the season he may hibernate in his little hole until spring.

October 14, 2018 (10:30 am)

Hard at work (underground)

Working on his cocoon!

October 14, 2018 (evening)

Regular

nanonaturalist:

A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

My banana pepper was prepupal this morning! Look at that adorable pink blush! ☺️

The enclosure I put him in was apparently not up to his standards, because he made an attempt to bury himself and gave up. So I filled a large bowl up with several inches of soil and relocated him.

I went to the kitchen to grab my breakfast, then went back to check on him.

There he goes!!!

Sphinx moth caterpillars burrow into the soil, and create a dirt-cocoon which looks like a little cave. This bab is late enough in the season he may hibernate in his little hole until spring.

October 14, 2018 (10:30 am)

Regular

A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

thebluehue22: nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist:…

thebluehue22:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

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

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonatural…

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

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

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturali…

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

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

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturali…

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Ready for another caterpillar flavor? I found a Polyphemus moth laying eggs on the side of my house. Brought her inside, put her in an enclosure while I grabbed a paper bag (easier to collect eggs on paper!!!), and she laid FIVE eggs in the 10 seconds it took me to get back to her.

Last year, I struggled with keeping my Polyphemus babes fed, since the trees they eat were not abundant in my yard (they ate all the little saplings down to sticks!). But this year, I anticipated Good Moth Luck, and have let all the elm saplings get big and tall regardless of how inconveniently placed they are. And here we are! 😀

August 31, 2018

Guess who’s here?

Mama moth laid 90 eggs and thankfully I was able to give away most of them. I kept 20 eggs for myself, and they started hatching this morning. Exciting!!

September 8, 2018

My fat babies 😭

I gave away 5 more eggs, and three have yet to hatch, so only 12 caterpillars right now. Much easier than 90!!

September 10, 2018

Newborn Alert!

Compare the size of a newly hatched baby pillar with her two-day-old siblings.

September 10, 2018

Baby’s First Molt

You can see his old face is starting to come off! Exciting!

September 11, 2018

Molting underway!

Fresh new clothes! In the top photo, you can see the baby’s old skin behind him (it’s the dry yellow thing). In the bottom photo, you can see all their discarded head capsules (I circled them). I collect caterpillar faces!

Remember: they are four days old at this point.

September 12, 2018

Gaze upon my large children

September 13, 2018

Oops forgot to post these yesterday!! Got distracted by BIRD NONSENSE

I probably need to feed them again. They are eating machines!!!

September 15, 2018

Important new development: Hairy Toes

September 20, 2018

The molting and cuteness are everlasting. Soon they will have their walrus mustaches.

September 22, 2018

The bigger they get, the sillier their molt dance gets. Check out the complete celebratory ridiculousness here [link to previous post]

Wow wouldn’t it be nice if I could post a video reblog on mobile?!

September 23, 2018

Important

Big n’ fat

September 25, 2018

Absolute Units

These were taken over the course of the past few days (time to retag these as “caterpillar laterposts”?), but as you can see, they are now LORGE. The last photo is a big fat baby molting again to become bigger and fatter.

On Monday, I’m bringing them to a school, where a class of VERY lucky 1st graders gets to MEET THEM and WATCH THEM POOP. Speaking of which, stay tuned because I have the action-gif of the poopening photo third from the bottom.

September 29, 2018

Polyphemus caterpillars: unanimously approved by 25 six-year-old humans

image
image
image

Yesterday, I brought four of the fatties to Cedar Creek Elementary school where they got to meet a class of 1st graders who are learning about insects. One of them was molting! One of them pooped, they were fat and eating and the kids LOVED them. They kept asking: “Are these REAL?!” You bet!!

I also brought the microscope and showed them some caterpillar faces! Photos above are from yesterday.

And today?

image
image
image

They grow. Larger and larger!

October 2, 2018

*heavy breathing*

October 3, 2018

Poopin’

October 4, 2018

I’m in love

October 4, 2018 (pm)

Faterpillar Apocalypse

October 6, 2018

How are they not making cocoons yet?!

LOOK HOW FAT

LOOK

October 8, 2018

STOP THEM

Like my new mustache?

October 8/9, 2018

Squeeze gently to check for ripeness.

Ah, yes. Almost ready.

(Where are my cocoons already?!)

October 9, 2018

It is time

The prophesy is realized. As it was foretold,

R O U N D B O Y

has arrived

This prepupal green sausage is making THE FIRST COCOON!!!

October 10, 2018

There are now three cocoons

Top: the first cocoon, babby sewed some leaves to the side the their home so you can see the “naked” cocoon side. They don’t always hide in leaf cocoons, but it’s very common and a good camouflage strategy.

Bottom: the second cocoonis completely enclosed in leaves. The third cocoon looks the same.

The caterpillars were huge, so these cocoons must be MASSIVE, right??

Nope! Check it out:

You remember the first bab got SO FAT WHY? They squeeze themselves like an accordion before they make their cocoon and pupate inside. Adult moths look way bigger than they actually are thanks to their wings. Polyphemus moths are pretty big anyway, but the cocoon and pupa are only about a large as the moths body, the wings are just tiny inflatable flaps until they emerge and pump them up.

Only 9 more to go!

October 12, 2018