Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Giant Caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth

For the past two years, this has been the time of the fuzzy caterpillars. I’m used to seeing hundreds of furry little wormy guys hustling across the road at work and making their way through the grass.  This year, I’ve hardly seen any, but the best one was this impressive beast:

caterpillar

Giant leopard moth caterpillar, Hypercompe scribonia

That’s a giant leopard moth caterpillar, and they live up to the “giant” in their name!  That caterpillar was a good 3 inches long, and quite thick with all of those hairs circling its body.  Shortly after I took this shot, it curled up into a little ring in my hand, a defense mechanism they’re known for that tucks their soft underparts safely sway inside the stiff black hairs.  These caterpillars lack stinging hairs and don’t bite, so they rely on those hairs and the red bands between the hairs (warning coloration!) to deter predators.

Wish I’d seen more of these this year, but this has been a very strange year overall.  Here’s hoping things will be back to normal next year!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 11/9/14 – 11/22/14

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

 

Just a few swarms to report from the last few weeks:

USA:

Tracy, CA

Spain:

Estepona

And here is the US map for the last two weeks:

Swarm map 11.8.14 to 11.22.14

Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Only 2 swarms in two weeks, but both were migratory, including one international sighting in Spain.  At this point I’ll be surprised if we see any more swarming in the northern hemisphere before the end of the year, but please do report swarms if you see them!  Any northern swarms from here through March will be very exciting.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Cool Weather Moths (Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday)

It’s gotten really chilly in Raleigh over the past few weeks.  We’ve had some decent days mixed in too, so it doesn’t quite feel like winter yet, but the insects are obviously on their way out for the season and have become rather sparse.  It was therefore with great pleasure that I came home on a chilly night last weekend and found a half-dozen of these little beauties on the molding around my front door:

Unknown moth

I have no idea what they were, but I was impressed that these moths were still out on a genuinely cold night.  Always interesting to see insects active when the temps are just above freezing!

Anyone else seeing cool things out still?  I want to live vicariously through you if you are!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: The Moth Formerly Known as Woolly Bear Caterpillar

It’s woolly bear caterpillar time!  I haven’t seen as many this year as I have the past couple of falls, but there have a been a few out and about.  Ever wondered what they look like as adults?  This is it:

Isabella tiger moth

Isabella tiger moth

Gorgeous, aren’t they?  They’re pretty big too, so it’s always a treat to come across one at my porch light.

Anyone else seeing woolly bears/woolly worms around recently?

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 10/26/14 – 11/8/14

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

 

The swarming activity is going way down as the weather begins to cool, but swarm reports came in from the following locations over the past few weeks:

USA:

Shadow Hills, CA
Piscataway, NJ
Manhatten, KS

Argentina:

Mar Del Plata

And here is the US map for the last two weeks:

 

2014 10 27 to 11 8

Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Only 4 swarms in two weeks, so the swarming activity is clearly slowing down.  It is getting cooler in many parts of the country and the abundance of dragonflies is going down with it.  But, there are still a few dragonflies out there!  The two American static swarms took place fairly far north, and there was even one migratory swarm in California.  These swarms are quite late in the year (four weeks late!) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get just a few more.  That’s super cool!

So keep looking for a few weeks more and report any swarms you see!  Would love to have a swarm report from the middle of November, just to see if it’s possible.

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Late Season Odonates

I finally made it to the North Carolina Zoo a few days ago!  I had wanted to go since I moved here, largely because they have a Sonoran Desert exhibit with a lot of the species I miss from Arizona, and I was excited I finally had a chance to go.  The Sonoran Desert exhibit was not my favorite part, however.  It was this:

 

Lestes sp

Archilestes grandis?

There were dozens of dragonflies and damselflies (=odonates) out flying around the marshy area near the entrance!  I am not 100% sure which species this is as they were a ways off and I am really that not great at IDing lestid damselfly species anyway, but they were huge so probably Archilestes grandis? And there were a lot of them.  I was excited to see any dragonflies or damselflies out this late in the year!

Anyone else still seeing dragonflies and damselflies?

(Thanks to Mike Powell for making me question my initial identification of this damselfly as a Lestes sp.!)

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

Swarm Sunday: 10/1/14 – 10/26/14

Dragonfly Swarm Project logo

I am all kinds of behind on my weekly swarm reports, but I’m trying to get caught up!  Rather than bombard you all with a bunch of swarm posts all at once, today I am going to focus only on the swarms that have been reported so far this month. I’ll post the other weeks as weekly swarm posts, but I am going to backdate them so that they fit in where they should have earlier this summer.  Once I get them posted, I’ll make another post here that includes links to all of these new posts containing the data from August and September.  Then because the season is mostly over now, I’ll start my yearly wrap-up posts.  Getting caught up!  Woo!

Swarm reports came from the following locations in October:

USA:

Anniston, AL
Orange Beach, AL
Weed, CA
Hoschton, GA
Rolla, MO
Lexington, SC
Coldspring, TX
Denton, TX
Plano, TX
Talty, TX
Waxahachie, TX

Thailand:

Chaloklum, Koh Phagnan

And here is the map for the month:

Dragonfly swarms 2014 10 1 to 26

Red pins are static swarms, yellow pins are migratory. Click the map to enlarge!

Most of the activity that has taken place this month has, unsurprisingly, taken place in the southern US, with one notable American exception in northern California and a foreign swarm in Thailand (new country, and brings the total up to 26!).  Swarm reports have slowed way down, as expected at this time of year, but I did receive a report of a swarm that took place today.  That is quite late for a dragonfly swarm in the US and supports my idea that the swarm season would be shifted a few weeks later this year. Normally the last report trickles in around mid-October, but there were several reports submitted at that time and a few more reported after that date.  Interesting!

The Dragonfly Swarm Project is still going strong, even if I haven’t been able to get the data online in a timely manner recently, so please keep sending in your reports if you see swarms.  These late season swarms are quite interesting, so keep an eye out for unseasonable swarming in your area!

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Have you seen a dragonfly swarm? I am tracking swarms so I can learn more about this interesting behavior.  If you see one, I’d love to hear from you!  Please visit my Report a Dragonfly Swarm page to fill out the official report form.  It only takes a few minutes! Thanks!

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Want more information? Visit my dragonfly swarm information page for my entire collection of posts about dragonfly swarms!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth