Busy Picture

A picture from below the leaves of our catalpa tree.

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There are sunlit shapes and shaded ones in this complicated composition. There’s the linear lines from the tree’s branches. There are leaves in their natural state and others that have been skeletonized by the catalpa hornworm caterpillars.

The short dark lines on the leaf in the middle of the picture are young caterpillars


They stay on the underside of the leaves where predators less likely to find them.


This caterpillar was higher in the tree. I thought it was sick or dead when I took the picture. It turned out that the caterpillar was molting — shedding its skin.


There’s also variety in their coloring.


 Cocoons of a parasitic wasps cover most of the back of this caterpillar.


They do have variation in the color of their patterns.

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The full-grown caterpillar burrows into the ground, forms its pupa and the moth emerges in late spring.


Our catalpa tree stands about 50 feet tall.

2 responses to this post.

  1. I rarely see any insects on our catalpas, even when I look on the undersides of the leaves. Ours is the northern catalpa. I wonder if yours is the southern.


    • I would think mine is definitely a southern catalpa. Our temp and humidity is definitely southern. The numbers of caterpillars can vary greatly. One summer they almost had most of the leaves off the tree.


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