Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's Caterpillar Time

September is a good month for spotting caterpillars. Many overwinter as pupae so they are eating up everything in sight. I use Caterpillars of Eastern Forests published by the U.S. Printing Office as my guide along with Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars.

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar (Apatelodes torrefacta)

This caterpillar was on our rusted gate--about 2 inches in length.

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae)

Right above the gate, I saw this tussock moth caterpillar which prefers hickories and walnut trees, all of which were in abundance here.

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar (Ecpantheria scribonia)

This large, about 3 inch in length caterpillar looks scary enough. It rolls into a ball when threatened, exposing the red rings which make it easy to identify.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

This is also a prime time to see Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. This caterpillar will pupate and then emerge and fly south to Mexico before winter! I watched one for a day or two, then it disappeared or was this one about 3 feet away. This one also disappeared after a couple of days--not sure if there's a chrysalis around but I can't find it.

This isn't a caterpillar but a little stick bug--only about 3 inches in length. It should be on a brown blade of grass to be camouflaged but I spotted it easily on these ferns.


  1. I'm totally impressed! You find 'em, you take a portrait and you identify them! Wow!

  2. Great Caterpillar captures Joan!!
    I've seen several over the weekend.

  3. Oh my goodness, these photos are WONDERFUL! Great colors! The first one looks like it should be called a skunk caterpillar. :)

  4. Dwelifhtful! The Tussock moths are spectacular in their appearance.

  5. Beautiful. I'm going out to look for caterpillars myself.

  6. You have a beautiful blog! Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures with us. I have always loved butterflies...they are the symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth.

    "“How does one become a butterfly?" she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

    I do not know the author of this quote but it is, I think, beautiful, just like your blog!

  7. ...very cool caterpillars. I would like to come across a few of those! I'm planting milkweed in my garden, so hopefully next year I'll see a few of those monarch butterfly caterpillars!

  8. Hi Everyone--didn't check my blog and realized I was behind on approving comments. Just changed because I had been getting spammed (and had to delete the comments one by one on 30+ posts!).

    I'm still seeing a lot of the caterpillars. Thanks for your comments.

  9. Loved to see all the caterpillars. I had a new experience this year - a friend found the eggs of monarchs and we harbored and cared for them till they became chrysalises and then butterflies. Once they come out of the chrysalis, they will walk all over you for a while.

    If you care to see my recordings of it I'm at

    The posts were in August labeled: Monarch I and II

    Your photos are just beautiful!

  10. oh great caterpillar shots..and that stick a find!

  11. You've mis-IDed the first caterpillar as a spotted apatalodes. They have 3 long black 'pencils' 2 front, one back. What you have here may be a sycamore tussock moth - see Wagner.