It’s the end of the second week in September and the fall colors are showing themselves. Above Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is one of the very first plants to change color each year. This five-leaved climbing vine is easily seen on the trunks of many trees.
Here’s to another caterpillar filled week! Earlier this week Kathryn and I hiked up to the meadow on another part of the preserve and collected Monarch Caterpillars to raise. 25ish caterpillars later, I again have my hands full with plenty of munching mouths to feed!
We have monarchs at all different stages of development, egg, larva, pupa and butterfly. After hatching from an egg the monarch caterpillar will eat almost nonstop for about 15 days, eventually weighing more than 2700 times its original weight! For reference, if a human baby were to grow at the same rate as a monarch caterpillar it would weigh about 200,000 lbs by the time it is 15 days old.
|Can you see the wing?|
|Thanks to Butterfly wrangler Tom, this monarch was safely transferred from chrysalis to Ironweed|
Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odonrorhiza) is still going strong, stop out soon if you would like to see it in good blooming condition!
Joining its cousins Cardinal Flower and Indian Tobacco is our third Lobelia- Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia syphilitica). The species name of this plant is reference to its use to treat venereal diseases!
In stark contrast to the showy flowers above is the Autumn Coral-root (Corallorhiza odontorhiza) seen below.
The stain is the droppings from an active colony of Woolly Aphids who are busily sucking the sap from the branches of an American Beech tree.
I feel like my week could be a passage from Eric Carle’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
|Cecropia Moth Caterpillar|
They eat, and eat, and eat some more, I’ve been sure to check their food supply, Wild Black Cherry leaves, a couple times a day! Just like the caterpillars from Eric Carle’s book, I’m sure they would eat an entire picnic if I gave it to them!
|Hungry Cecropia Moth Caterpillars at the end of a long day|
A caterpillar has just one job, to eat. Since adult Cecropia moths do not have mouth parts, these caterpillars must consume enough food to supply themselves through adulthood. Without proper nutrition a caterpillar might not have enough energy to undergo metamorphosis and reproduce. Once the caterpillar is ready it will spin a tough cocoon. Inside, it will complete metamorphosis and emerge early summer of the next year. Below is an adult Cecropia:
|Luna Moth Caterpillar|
While out gathering milkweed for them I came across another curious caterpillar, or should I say a bunch of curious caterpillars. I identified them to be Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars (Euchaetes egle) They had completely defoliated a small milkweed plant, leaving only the bare stems.
For those of you we told about newest the additions to our Nature Center, this post is for you! The Jabebo Nature Earrings are in, and on sale for $10.00 a pair!
Here are a few examples:
|Creatively altered photo by Nora|