Caterpillars and Moths
We are having a warm fall, and I found two caterpillars late in October.
I was excited to find this caterpillar munching on one of our invasive trees, the Chinese tallow. If I could find anything that would eat them up, I would get a Nobel prize.
Sadly, it eats a large variety of foliage, so no one will be awarding me anything for my discovery. It was so cute and fuzzy, but I didn’t touch it in case those were stinging hairs. When in moth form, its brown wings are held away from their bodies and look like they are missing huge chunks.
I found this next one when I was out looking for spiders in the dark.
I have had its grown-up counterpart in the house one time — it is a beautiful large yellow and rose-colored moth, but that one was too battered to look decent in pictures.
While researching these, I found information on some caterpillars and moths from last year and the year before. (I take dozens of pictures every day, and I am really good about uploading and editing them, but the logjam comes in trying to identify the creatures in the pictures.)
I thought this next one was a Tomato Hornworm, since it was on our tomato plants. I have since learned that is in fact a Tobacco Hornworm, but that both of those species can be found on both plants, and on potato plants as well. Tobacco Hornworms, Manduca sexta, have seven diagonal white stripes and a red or orange “horn”; Tomato Hornworms have eight V-shaped stripes that go over and under the little dark dots on the body, and their “horn” is blue-black.
From seeing this dead specimen, I could identify the moth I had photographed one night in late September of 2015.
I believe it is pollinating my birdhouse gourd plants, and that solves a mystery in itself! I have very good luck with the gourds forming but I had read that a lot of people don’t. I was curious about their pollinators, but all the online references I found said that no one knew what pollinated them. I am a very lazy gardener and don’t patrol for hornworms, so if they get to adult stage and then pollinate the gourd blooms, that would explain why I have success, and other, more proactive, gardeners don’t.