Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Luna Moth Caterpillar and Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar

At Cave Lake, we not only were able to see loads of cool flora, we also viewed some pretty cool beasties, as well. It isn't a secret that I really like caterpillars, so when we found some truly interesting ones, I was stoked!

We found a patch of Prickly Ash, Zanthoxylum americanum, and I wondered out loud if we could find a Giant Swallowtail caterpillar, Papilio cresphontes, on the leaves. Not more than a few seconds later, sharp-eyed Diana Boyd from Keystone Flora found one, right under my nose.

Like a bizarre Tickle Me Elmo for science geeks, you tickle the little caterpillar bird poo mimic and teeee-heeee!...

out pops its osmeterium and a not so pleasant smell. It protects the little caterpillar from nosy birds looking for a snack by scaring the feathers off of them.

A little later, John Howard was flipping over leaves and found this lime green beauty, a Luna Moth caterpillar, Actias luna.

Such a cool caterpillar and one I rarely get to see. It will become one of the most beautiful moths out there.

Here is one we raised from a caterpillar a few years ago. I love how the edges of the wings blend right in with the branch, with tiny leaf bud detailing. While hanging high up in a tree, it would go unnoticed by most. So amazing!


  1. Great Post :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

  2. We weren't as lucky as you were, the only caterpillars we saw were Monarchs.