Category: moths

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturali…

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

Went to grab some quick food for the Cecropia caterpillars, and the leaflet I randomly picked to feed them had A BABY on it! I have no idea who this is, though with the hairs, I’m guessing a tiger moth of some sort?

Caterpillar season is HERE!!! I’ve got three species going now! Plus the stick insects. Let’s see how overboard I go this year (please not too much 😭). I am NOT planting more milkweed and it appears my plants from last year did not survive (*phew!*)

I love caterpillars but they are soul-draining vampires and I am compelled to serve them beyond my will. Save me.

March 27, 2019

Molting already

They grow so fast

March 29, 2019

Again and again!

Post-molt glamour shots from March 31 (so beautiful!). But of course, baby molted AGAIN two days later!!

Hmmmmm I have no idea who this could be 😉

Tiger moth of some sort, probably Virginian.

April 2, 2019

Catch-up time!

April 4

This sweet babe 😭 Growing so fast.

Oh! What’s this?

Molting? Again?!

April 6

A racing stripe! Some accent color! I think the babe is almost identifiable!

April 9

After another molt, we have some interesting changes!

Who could this baby be?!

My baby’s face is the same!

Can’t wait to see who this is!

April 8, 2019

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: Went to grab…

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

Went to grab some quick food for the Cecropia caterpillars, and the leaflet I randomly picked to feed them had A BABY on it! I have no idea who this is, though with the hairs, I’m guessing a tiger moth of some sort?

Caterpillar season is HERE!!! I’ve got three species going now! Plus the stick insects. Let’s see how overboard I go this year (please not too much 😭). I am NOT planting more milkweed and it appears my plants from last year did not survive (*phew!*)

I love caterpillars but they are soul-draining vampires and I am compelled to serve them beyond my will. Save me.

March 27, 2019

Molting already

They grow so fast

March 29, 2019

Again and again!

Post-molt glamour shots from March 31 (so beautiful!). But of course, baby molted AGAIN two days later!!

Hmmmmm I have no idea who this could be 😉

Tiger moth of some sort, probably Virginian.

April 2, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

So large!

I can’t believe how fast they grow! Elderberry bush is still holding out.

March 30, 2019

Another Molt?!

After they molted to second instar, some of them turned out to be banana flavored (!). Very nice! They are growing FAST! The oldest ones are already starting their molt to third instar!

The two who are molting are hanging out on the lid. It’s hard to see through all their silk, but the one on the little window is squeezing out of his old face. They should all be green in the third instar. Going to need to upgrade their home soon!

April 1, 2019

Aaahhhhhh!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A couple more have molted as well, and a bunch more have started. This is third instar (there are five instars before this species pupates!).

This should be when they REALLY start to grow…

April 2, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

So large!

I can’t believe how fast they grow! Elderberry bush is still holding out.

March 30, 2019

Another Molt?!

After they molted to second instar, some of them turned out to be banana flavored (!). Very nice! They are growing FAST! The oldest ones are already starting their molt to third instar!

The two who are molting are hanging out on the lid. It’s hard to see through all their silk, but the one on the little window is squeezing out of his old face. They should all be green in the third instar. Going to need to upgrade their home soon!

April 1, 2019

Regular

cablefucker69:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

So large!

I can’t believe how fast they grow! Elderberry bush is still holding out.

March 30, 2019

What region are you in? I’m in the midwest myself and my cecropias aren’t due to eclose until late April, and you already have third instar cats? Do you get two broods a year where you live?

Hello there! I am in central Texas (just outside Austin), and my caterpillars are still second instar. The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s eggs haven’t started hatching yet, so there is a variation in timing, even in my area. We do not get two broods a year, our cecropias make cocoons in late May/June and stay there until the next March.

I would like to share a great tool for tracking insect life cycles (especially if you don’t know if a species of interest has two broods a year!). iNaturalist! Check it out [link]:

That graph in the lower right corner? That’s a life cycle chart. Each color corresponds to a different life stage. Blue is adult moth, and orange is caterpillar. I have this graph filtered to just show data from Texas, because that’s where I am, and it’s clear that we only have one generation a year!

Compare that to the Polyphemus Moth [link]:

Look, two generations a year!

There is one issue with these charts, and it’s that they rely on people annotating their observations in iNaturalist with life cycle information (tagging their observations as “adult” or “larva,” etc). Anybody can tag observations, so when I want to know how many generations a species has, I’ll go through the observations from Texas and tag them, then check out the chart. It helped me figure out when to expect my Io moths to emerge!

Good luck with your moths! 

March 30, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

So large!

I can’t believe how fast they grow! Elderberry bush is still holding out.

March 30, 2019

nanonaturalist: Went to grab some quick food …

nanonaturalist:

Went to grab some quick food for the Cecropia caterpillars, and the leaflet I randomly picked to feed them had A BABY on it! I have no idea who this is, though with the hairs, I’m guessing a tiger moth of some sort?

Caterpillar season is HERE!!! I’ve got three species going now! Plus the stick insects. Let’s see how overboard I go this year (please not too much 😭). I am NOT planting more milkweed and it appears my plants from last year did not survive (*phew!*)

I love caterpillars but they are soul-draining vampires and I am compelled to serve them beyond my will. Save me.

March 27, 2019

Molting already

They grow so fast

March 29, 2019

Went to grab some quick food for the Cecropia …

Went to grab some quick food for the Cecropia caterpillars, and the leaflet I randomly picked to feed them had A BABY on it! I have no idea who this is, though with the hairs, I’m guessing a tiger moth of some sort?

Caterpillar season is HERE!!! I’ve got three species going now! Plus the stick insects. Let’s see how overboard I go this year (please not too much 😭). I am NOT planting more milkweed and it appears my plants from last year did not survive (*phew!*)

I love caterpillars but they are soul-draining vampires and I am compelled to serve them beyond my will. Save me.

March 27, 2019

Regular

scereyaha:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the old one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019

OMG THAT’s IT!

So when I was about 7-9 ish I found this HUGE bright green caterpillar, Like, I’m not sure the photos do it justice. I was Smol sure, but it was like… clearly the size of a pickle. and it had bright red, yellow and blue bumps on it with little black spikes sticking out of each [as you see pictured.] but when I tried to show it to my grandmother, in a big safe bucket. She freaked out and screamed about it and flung the whole thing outside and I never saw it again.

My mom came home from work, and I tried to describe this thing to her and how it wasn’t -normal- for our area… I had been playing with bugs in the yard for YEARS, like it’s all I had to do… Like we moved so much I barely knew another kid that wasn’t my sister… but I don’t even think she believed me.

Like a child says “It was huge and super bright green and it had all this coloured bumps in primary colours with black spikes!!!” and adults just -assume- they’re describing some fantasy, or a cartoon, or exaggerating and can’t understand why a child should care so much about trying to identify the species of a caterpillar…

And even years later when something would trigger the memory, I’d try to look it up… but “giant green caterpillar with coloured bumps” hadn’t googled up anything useful to me any time I tried, and I eventually stopped asking people about it and it faded from memory… 

Until now.

All of ONE person ever acknowledged that what I saw was probably even real and said they had heard of them and thought it might be some kind of moth.

… But like… I live in Northern Canada… and larvae are the kinds of things that are very sensitive to temperature and food sources no? and moths and butterflies often have set migratory patterns, if they migrate at all, no? So would it not have been super strange to see one of these in northern Canada in the 90s? Where are these from? I’ve never -ever- seen another, not with all my investigating bugs and looking through woods and being the person people call when they can’t identify a bug…

And listen, that’s SUPER it, like how the yellow spots slowly turn into red just at the very end, and how there’s one yellow one in the middle like an antenna, and the big blue suction feet like a cartoon, and the little black spikes in the nubs… Every little detail I tried to burn into my mind to identify it later. We had plum and apple trees in that yard too????

That is the quintessential caterpillar. Some awesomely caterpillar that people assume it’s description must be a caricature of what people think a cool caterpillar would be. 

Hello, Canadian Friend!

These moths DO INDEED OCCUR IN CANADA. I don’t know how far north you are, or which part of Canada (it’s big!) but BugGuide has records of this genus in the Northwest Territories. They are not migratory, and yes they are sensitive to temperature. What this means: in places farther north, the eggs hatch later in the year, and caterpillars eat FAST, grow FAST, and go into cocoons FAST, just in time for fall. This may be why nobody you know has seen them! They are also fairly uncommon!

They are very well camouflaged! My friend had an elderberry bush FULL OF THEM by her mailbox and had NO IDEA until they were already making cocoons. If you were a huge (delicious) juicy caterpillar, you would want to be invisible, too!

I had heard about these moths/caterpillars, but hadn’t seen them myself back in 2017. When I first heard about a state park that had them in the trees outside their visitor’s center, I dropped everything and drove there to see them. Even though it was a four hour drive. Even though it took me until midnight to get there. I only found one (the rest had started making cocoons), but oh boy I took PHOTOS of him. The fun part: the texture of the caterpillar’s skin was identical to the unripe plum fruits on the tree. Even though I was taking pictures of him and STARING at him, he kept disappearing!

Check out my post from that trip! [link] I got him onto a branch and he was the size of a corndog, I’m not joking. In that caterpillar, his front “knobs” are orange, though in some individuals they can be red. It varies!

There is more than one species, and they all look fairly similar. Which species you saw depends on where you are (also they haven’t really figured out how many species there are yet—it’s complicated!). Here is one with redder knobs, from Quebec (the knobs are also more elongated):

Photo stolen from BugGuide [link to source]

I’m glad your mystery caterpillar’s identity has been revealed, and I hope you can meet another one some day! They are very shy/silly babies.

March 26, 2019

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

The Official Cecropia Moth Life Cycle Post™

Buckle in kids, this one should be exciting and full of drama.

It all started with a text message. A friend out in Smithville (i.e. further out in the country than me) found some giant caterpillars:

I dropped everything to go see them. I lovingly adopted one caterpillar (who would turn out to be the female), and was also gifted with a cocoon (which held the male), one of many my friend found in her elderberry bush.

Winter came and went, the moths emerged, and got to business right away. They didn’t seem to mind that they were probably siblings.

The female laid eggs.

After about 20 days, they started to hatch:

They hatched three days ago.

Which brings us up to today. Most of them are out of their eggs by now. And they have started eating. I offered them a choice. Elm (good for me, I have lots of elm), or elderberry (please no it’s a baby I don’t have enough elderberry for 50 cecropias please no).

Here’s their little mini-home:

Elm (light green) vs elderberry (dark green)

Guess what the turds picked?

Of course.

My current plan is to grow the elderberry as much as I can (does the elderberry have favorite foods? Can I give it a ritual sacrifice? ???) and then return some of the caterpillars to the motherland when things get too ridiculous. I’m sure my friend will be super excited about that. And I can play with her bees when I visit, too!

Stay tuned (*sigh*)

March 19, 2019

Are they bigger?? They haven’t started Munchathon 2019 yet, but they are warming up, for sure.

March 21, 2019

They are bigger (and turning yellow)!

They finally turned their hungry on!

Not all my eggs hatched, so my “50” is greatly exaggerated. Looks like I have 13 if no more eggs hatch. A little more manageable. I can sneak them treats from my plum tree if I need to stretch the elderberry.

March 22/23, 2019

Baby’s First Molt

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

I just came home to find my first 2nd instar baby Cecropia! This was them this morning:

I had a feeling they were about to pop.

When they’re getting ready to molt, they will put down a silk mat to hold onto with their old skin (think velcro), while they crawl out of it. Then they hold real still for a few hours while their new head squeezes out of the new one so they have a hole to climb out of.

Here is the mat of one getting ready to molt:

In some species (and for older caterpillars), it can be more obvious, but you can usually see the silk when light shines on it. Here is the same caterpillar (side-view):

The silk mat is a little more obvious here. See how he looks like a fat sausage ready to pop?! (*whispers* it’s cuz he is).

March 26, 2019