|Acronicta tritona on blueberry|
It started with a Facebook group – Caterpillar Identification of North America (originally for Eastern North America). With almost 3000 members, a lot of pictures get shared every day of recently found caterpillars. I thought to myself that I really needed to look around more here, for surely some of those could be here too.
|Saddleback on goldenrod|
On Monday, I found the colorful hooded brown owlet moth nestled in a pot of ‘Golden Fleece’ goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata). I had always hoped to find one of these. It becomes a brown moth that I may never notice, but what a great caterpillar!
On Tuesday, I was determined to check the redbud (Cercis canadensis), and I found something! This brown and green caterpillar turned out to be Schizura ipomoeae, the morning glory prominent moth.
Excited about my daily treasure hunt, I went out Wednesday to check new types of trees. Near the driveway are several green ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Looking up into the leaves, I spotted a brown blotch and realized it was a caterpillar - the hag moth (Phobetron pithecium). I pulled the leaf down to take pictures and have been fetching fresh ash leaves for it ever since.
|Phobetron pithecium, the hag moth|
Thursday was a bust, however, and I found nothing new. Despite thorough searches on oaks, I found only the usual yellow-striped oakworm this week. I have found nothing so far on hickories or cherries at all. Of course, I am limited to searching at mostly eye level.
|Actias luna on sweetgum|
On Friday, I checked out sweetgum trees (Liquidambar styraiflua) and found a bright green luna moth caterpillar. I found only one and when I went back several hours later, it was nowhere to be found. I feel lucky to have found it the first time!
So if you've been wondering where the caterpillars are, get out there and find them. Apparently, they are quietly chewing all around us.