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

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

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: On Mammals and Insects… on Mammals!

Well, life keeps getting in the way of blogging, but I really wanted to get SOMETHING up today!  So, I bring you the noble cotton rat:

Cotton Rat

One of my coworkers at the natural history museum where I work live traps small mammals to monitor their population at the museum’s field station.  I finally had an opportunity to go with them a few weeks ago, and this rat in particular, though quite elderly and a little soggy, ended up being my favorite.  I love rodents in general, but we were also collecting insect and arachnid parasites off the mammals in the traps, you see, and this was the ONLY rat we got that had anything on it: a single flea.  My coworker grabbed the flea and I carried it around in a little vial in my pocket the rest of the morning.  I can’t say why, but the idea that I was carrying a flea in my pocket really amused me.  Granted, it WAS quite early in the morning at the end of an exhausting week, so my threshold for what I thought was funny that morning was perhaps a bit lower than normal…

I get my whole weekend off this week, so I might actually have time to get caught up on my dragonfly swarm blog posts.  Here’s hoping nothing else comes up before then!

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Sluuuuuurp!

I was out with my intern a few weeks ago looking for caterpillars and showed her some spicebush swallowtail and black swallowtail caterpillars before we made our way to the pipevine to look for pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. She hadn’t ever seen the pipevines, so I pointed out a few and we started looking around to see how many we could find on the plants.  I peered into the leaves trying to find a big caterpillar that was about to pupate when I saw a really odd-looking, shriveled caterpillar.  I assumed it was dead, but when I looked a little closer it moved.  So I looked even closer and saw this:

Jumping spider eating a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar

If that spider could smile, it totally would!  He (or she) looked quite pleased with himself and was dragging the wrinkly carcass around with him as he tried to hide under a leaf.  He was NOT letting that thing go – it was probably the score of a lifetime!

Isn’t nature grand?

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

Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Sometimes It’s Okay to Be Blurry

Ever have this happen: you take a photo of something that’s moving quickly in low-ish light and it’s super blurry, but you kinda like it anyway?  That’s what happened with this millipede:

Millipede blur

Millipede blur

No idea what kind of millipede this is, but it was pretty and I wanted a photo.  This is not a clear photo by any means, but it’s my favorite of the lot anyway.

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