Stuff outside the house - next chapter.

jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)August 11, 2014

On July 22, I spotted this creature in my elderberry (Sambucus - Black Lace). I had to do some research before I was able to determine what I was seeing.

This is the caterpillar for the Cecropia moth. It seems that they feed on maple and apple and pear trees. I have all of those, but this one was on my Black Lace. Dark foliage makes it stand out, which might lead to its early demise. It would be more natural to exist on the green-leaf trees.

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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Here is one of the photos from 8/6. Much larger and some of the colors are changing a bit.

Again, more research was needed. These caterpillars go through several stages where they shed their outer layer and then continue to grow. What I find interesting is that once they have done their eating routine, they will make a cocoon and that will be it until next spring (possibly May - depending on our winter weather). I don't know if a cocoon will be be spun on this plant, or what. I will continue to check on a twice a day basis.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:10PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

I little different angle and a lot bigger caterpillar. This was taken on 8/9. There is no attempt to camouflage itself. Bold colors (which are interesting in itself), keeps it from blending into its surroundings.

More information about the moth. Once it emerges in the spring, it will exist only for a short time. The moth has not mouth parts and will not be able to eat. It exists solely to procreate and then die. The moths are nocturnal, so I doubt that I will ever see one of them live.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cecropia moth adult

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:14PM
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sweet_betsy No AL Z7

What a cool caterpillar! Thanks for showing us.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:15PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

I took this photo this morning. Still chewing away. It pauses every once in a while to digest, I guess. The caterpillars breathe through small slits behind their chewing mechanism. The mouth is strictly for ingesting foliage.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:17PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Aha! I discover a second one! I really knot know how I missed it. They are on the same side of the plant, but on different branches. One of them is working its way from the top (will not eat new growth) and the other working its way from the center to the top.

A neighbor asked if I had named them. I decided not to do that, as I cannot determine their sex!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:21PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Here is a good close up.

AMAZING!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:23PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

It dawned on me today to look farther. This is their waste. It appears, on close examination, as though it were an extruded, perfectly symmetrical product.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:26PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

are you sure those arent mulberries.. lol ..

brilliant pix ... thx

ken

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 4:27PM
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gmatx zone 6

Jim, as usual your pictures are so good. It is amazing to see the detail of the caterpillar's chewing apparatus in that picture. I have read before that some creatures, frogs for instance, have bright colors on their body to scare off predators as the colors make them think the frog is bad tasting or poisonous.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:15PM
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west_gardener

Jim, excellent photos,
Luv your subject posting. Your next chapter is a very happy moth.
Oh, I have to admit that the caterpillar is cute.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:21PM
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lilosophie

Such an unusual caterpillar, I like the coloring very much. We don't have those creatures here in the West.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 6:41PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Madame Monarch on milkweed in the back yard.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:46PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

Not more than 18 inches away, a monarch caterpillar. Hooray! None last year, all those milkweed plants and the only things to enjoy them were the oleander aphids.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:48PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

A close view of oleander aphids. They suck the milky sap from the milkweed. I have deadheaded many flowers this year to try to keep them under control to no effect. Supposedly, lacewings and lady bugs love to dine on these, but I have not seen either one in the garden this year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:50PM
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anneliese_32(6)

Great pictures. The caterpillar has such a lovely coloring.

Jim, do you have near you by any chance a streetlight? Quit often you find dead moths underneath them. They kill themselves hitting the light.
I just mentioned yesterday to my husband that I have not seen any lacewings this year and the ladybugs are missing too. A couple of years ago we had an invasion of the Asian ladybugs and was told that they displaced our red ones.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:09PM
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west_gardener

Madame Monarch, is milking the Milkweed ,
Fab photo.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:00PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

No street lights, we are in a 10 year old subdivision that just got annexed into the city. I have a 25 watt bulb in a yard light and a few of the neighbors keep their garage lights on, but that is it out here in the sticks.

There had been three monarch caterpillars; however, this morning, I found only three! Several weeks ago, I saw a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on some dill. After about one week it disappeared. I looked around and have not been able to discover a spot where it might have gone. Today, while doing stuff outside, I did see a Black Swallowtail bouncing around the yard. It sill have lots of dill and carrot tops for snacking. We'll see.

In the meantime, "Fred and Ethel" are still chewing away. Here's a photo from Wednesday evening.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:35PM
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west_gardener

You are talking disappearing dill? Been there, done that, but it only took two days for my dill plants to be eaten down to the stalks.
I had planned to make "gravelax" a cured salmon with salt and
dill but somebody got to the diill before I did.Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 11:02PM
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