urbpan: (dandelion)
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Urban Nature Walks happen on the last Sunday of the month--this shouldn't surprise me, but it often does. I sent out the call: is anyone else planning to walk somewhere? Fortunately my friend TeĆ” said she was heading to Stonybrook Reservation to look for caterpillars! We ended up circumambulating Turtle Pond at a leisurely pace looking for all kinds of living things! This pair of bullfrogs is a good first sighting.

Read more... )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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This mysterious and perhaps a little creepy stone cabin welcomes you to the south entrance of Cutler Park. The northern end is far more developed and well traveled, and I have never been there.

come along for a lot of pictures )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Waxworms are moth caterpillars that, in nature, develop in the hives of honeybees, feeding on the wax and other products therein. Because they spend their larva lives in the dark of the hive, they are colorless and maggot-like.

They happen to be very hardy caterpillars that will survive a relatively long time if kept at a low temperature--say, in a refrigerator. This has contributed to them being incorporated into the captive insect food industry. These are intended for cotton-top tamarins, which are tiny monkeys. They are likewise fed to captive birds and reptiles. They are also perfectly good food for humans, and if you read the book "Edible" by Daniella Martin, you will find a simple recipe for preparing them. (No, I haven't tried them yet.)
urbpan: (dandelion)

Giant leopard moth Hypercompe scribonia

Well, this is embarrassing. Not only did I fall 26 species short of my project, I totally forgot to post this one back in early December when I found it. This plump bristly caterpillar took me by surprise, as it seemed rather late in the year. I usually give up on finding new insects outdoors in December--apart from a few small fly species that pop up here and there.

I would have never posted this if it weren't for my friend Karen who likes to post random pictures of animals on my facebook timeline. She just thought it was a beautiful creature that I would appreciate (it is) without realizing (or caring) that I had found them in my yard in 2012. The adult moth is white with a very attractive pattern of black spots and rings. Blue and orange scales on the moth's body are hidden by the wings at rest, but are dramatic when the wings are spread.

This caterpillar feeds on a wide variety of cultivated and wild plants--from banana leaves to maple leaves, and including urban and suburban plants like dandelions, violets, and brassicas. Like the woolly bear, the leopard moth caterpillar overwinters in the larva stage, somewhat protected by its coat of bristles.

Pictures of the adult moth, etc.
urbpan: (Default)

Striped garden caterpillar Trichordestra legitima

I've complained about common names several times before on this blog, but it's hard to quibble with this one. I found this caterpillar while we were tearing down our vegetable garden for the fall. When I picked it up, it curled into a defensive position, and when I showed it to Alexis she initially mistook it for a striped garden snail. The resemblance was so close that I wondered if it was a case of mimicry, but it turns out this is a native caterpillar, and it is unlikely to have evolved a likeness to a European snail. More likely the curling helps face that lateral yellow stripe at potential predators to convince them that the larva is not edible.

This caterpillar's taste are extremely broad: while in that section of our yard it may have been eating bean plants, violets, goldenrod, aster, cherry, or raspberry. The adult is medium sized brown and gray moth that would have been really frustrating to try to identify, and then more so to learn that the species is named for the larva.
urbpan: (Default)

Skiff moth Prolimacodes badia

It's nice to see the retro wood-paneling look come back. I find this to be yet another plain brown moth that is surprisingly attractive when you take the time to look at it closely. As with most of the other moths profiled this week, the common name refers to the larva. The skiff moth caterpillar is shaped like a boxy little boat, the upper side colored like a slightly damaged leaf. It glides along the leaf like a skiff on still water.

As with other slug caterpillars, caterpillar enthusiasts find it by examining the undersides of leaves. The skiff moth larva ventures on board the tops of leaves more often than others, probably due to its remarkable camouflage. Host plants include a wide range of trees and woody shrubs--apparently we should look on our blueberries for this one.

Video of skiff moth caterpillar moving.
urbpan: (Default)

This box is at the service entrance of the zoo. This is where you go if you are bringing a truckload of meat or pine shaving to the zoo. The box has a button and a speaker on it to talk to Security to have them come and let you in. None of this activity seems to bother the American robins who built a nest on it and raised some chicks there.

More Urban Wildlife! )
urbpan: (treefrog)
Oh, sure, it's really my only day off, and I have stuff to do, but now I would like to continue putting it off, this time with my traditional Monday picspam. The theme is yet more interesting wildlife I found at work, a lot of which I don't know what it is.

Read more... )


Jun. 6th, 2007 01:10 pm
urbpan: (monarch)

This caterpillar seen at Glen Moss Stream in Vermont (posted a few days earlier) is the larva of the Baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton). Like the Baltimore oriole, it is named after Lord Baltimore, whose emblematic colors were orange and black (or possibly gold and black). Both the larva and the adult butterfly are so colored. The Baltimore checkerspot is the Maryland state insect. Maryland's official obsession with the state colors extends to the state cat (calico) and the state flower (black-eyed susan) as well as of course the state bird and insect.
urbpan: (monarch)

Photos by [livejournal.com profile] urbpan. Location: Olmsted Park, Boston.

Urban species #290: Wooly bear

Along with ladybugs, wooly bear caterpillars are among the most adored of the insects. This is not due to any function or service that they perform, simply their attractive, panda-like appearance, and the lack (or concealment) of such objectionable insect features as creepy abdominal segments, horrible mandibles, ugly appendages, and alarming pinchers. As far as most people are concerned, wooly bears are simply tiny cylindrical mammals. While it's nice to see at least one insect admired, it's baffling that very similar animals that have patchy "fur," or none at all, are reviled. Caterpillar hair is a defensive structure which helps prevent birds and other predators from eating the butterfly or moth larvae. Some caterpillar bristles contain venom and are dangerous to touch, but wooly bears can be handled safely.

Wooly bears are common throughout North America. Unlike picky specialists like the monarch, these caterpillars will eat nearly anything, from the dandelions to maples and many other plants in between. Introduced plants such as plantains may help increase the numbers of wooly bears in cities--these plants persist late into the fall and even winter, allowing the caterpillars a longer feeding season. Wooly bears are conspicuously active in fall, seen crossing sidewalks in search of a place to hide and sleep through the winter. In spring the caterpillars wake up and pupate, transforming into Isabella tiger moths, rather nondescript yellowish brown creatures.

Read more... )
urbpan: (Maggots)

Nymphal grasshoppers are not gross. It's because we are babies!

Also, early instar tussock moth caterpillars are cute.


urbpan: (Default)

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