A Carnivorous What?

If I didn’t know a relatively unknown fact, I wouldn’t get too excited over finding 2 woolly aphids.

The reason for my excitement, you ask? North America has one carnivorous caterpillar, and it feeds on woolly aphids. I’ve only seen a handful of the harvester butterflies over many years, and only seen their caterpillars once 5 years ago.

My grandkids were in town, and I took my oldest grandson hiking at one of my favorite spots. These caterpillars were considerate enough to be right beside the trail.

Obviously, they blend in well with the aphids. Host plants for these aphids include alder, ash, beech, greenbrier, hawthorn, maple and witch hazel. I was so excited, I didn’t even think to check what plant they were one.

I assume these aphids are on what’s left of leaves.

The aphids and caterpillars covered a relatively good-sized area of the shrubby tree.

It looks like one of the young caterpillars just molted by the “ball” of white fluff.

 The harvester butterflies (Feniseca tarquinius) stay near the aphids too and feed on the honey dew they excrete.

The caterpillars grow to 3/4 inch long. I don’t have any pictures of the butterfly. They have a wingspan to 1 1/3 inch wide and are a pale brown butterfly underneath with small white-edged circularish patterns.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on September 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    You are a wonderful teacher! I am again amazed!


  2. I like your education- learning by browsing your blog.


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