Posts Tagged ‘egg’

Red Spotted Purple Caterpillars

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This morning started with watching a female red-spotted purple butterfly laying eggs in a young wild cherry tree.

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The female taps the leaves with her feet to be sure she’s in the right tree. Butterflies smell with their feet.

The egg on the left is definitely the egg of a red-spotted purple butterfly. Something’s not right with the egg on the tip of the leaf.

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This young wild cherry tree almost gets lost among all the other nearby growth nearby. All these pictures were taken in it.

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The caterpillar measured 5mm. The three I found were all approximately the same size. They usually dangle a small cluster of leaf pieces to attract attention away from the caterpillar. The predator must be an immature, just like the caterpillar.

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 The position of the caterpillar looks like it’s either paralyzed or dead.

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This last caterpillar looks a tad odd: maybe it just molted. What looks like antennae, is a split from the drying vein of the leaf.  The way the leaf is cut away, the bare center vein and the dangling leaf pieces are definitely done by the caterpillar of red-spotted purple butterfly.


Are you impressed with my picture of this small branch off an ash tree?

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It even includes a caterpillar.


This is the other end of the stick with another caterpillar on it.


The head end of the caterpillar resembles a bent stick.


The caterpillar shows better here with its hairs raised from the broken twig.

It’s a caterpillar of a dot-lined white moth (Artace cribraria) which grows to two inches long. They feed mostly at night and rest on the bark during the day. Their host plants include cherry and oak trees, roses and other woody plants. They overwinter in the egg.


Years ago my Mother and I were having a picnic at Bell Smith Springs in the Shawnee National Forest (in southern Illinois). The caterpillar dot-lined white moth above joined us at the picnic table. It didn’t blend in with the table as well as it thought it did.

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It didn’t like her attention and “eyes” opened on the back of its thorax in an attempt to scare us.

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Then to get its point across, it raised into a cobra position and swayed back and forth from one side to the other.

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It refused to be intimidated!

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Its fake head resembled that of a cobra’s head.

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Open To Suggestions

I was rearranging rocks one morning and found this egg sac attached to the underside of a rock.


The whole egg and “shell” measured less than 3/8 inch.


One side of it broke lose from the rock and flipped over.

One side was more transparent than the other.

I’ve never seen one before.

I have no idea how it was made and then have the egg on the inside.

If anyone knows anything about this curiosity, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Potter Wasp

June 21st, 2014

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a potter wasp before.

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Until a few afternoons ago when I let Buffy out to ….

Small activity caught my attention; a potter wasp was — I’m not sure — making its pot for laying an egg or eggs in? Laying the egg? Bringing in a paralyzed larva for food? It acted agitated with my presence.

The potter wasp look like a masked creature from outer space.

I got excited because I’ve only found completed pots.

The bad news is that I haven’t seen any activity since I found the pot. The empty pot measures a half-inch in diameter.


July 12th

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Something prompted me to check the potter wasp nest for some reason … and the entrance was closed.  Apparently, the wasp decided to use it after all. Now I’ll need to check it more often. (That’s a small cricket squeezed in beside it.)

A VERY Interesting Caterpillar

I’ve looked occasionally throughout most of the summer for the caterpillars of the red spotted purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis). One problem was only seeing 4 or 5 of the butterflies.  Then, today’s September 9th search turned up one of the tiny caterpillars!

Like I said, it’s tiny. They have one of the most amazing life history of any butterfly (in my opinion). They use so many defense methods throughout their development.

First the female butterfly lays a tiny white egg at the very tip of the leaf, in this case, a wild cherry tree. (They also use willow and apple.) The teeny caterpillar hatches and eats its egg shell.

Then the caterpillar eats the leaf on both sides of the central vein. The vein gradually curves as it dries. The caterpillar also cuts off leaf pieces and attaches them so they dangle in a ball-like shape. Any movement of the leaf causes the ball to swing, and  attracts the attention of a predator away from the caterpillar. It spends most of its time at the end of the vein and tends to be active later in the day.


The above happened day before yesterday. Tonight, I found another caterpillar in the same tree and the same age as the first!

Notice in the pictures how the caterpillars eat the leaf toward the vein so it leaves a piece of the leaf. These 2 caterpillars are 4-5mm long, and their color’s similar to the central vein.

Many years ago wild cherry trees practically lined the side of the road along my rural property. I spent so much time observing, drawing and journaling the experiences. I learned how the female butterfly knew if she was on the right plant — she tapped the leaves with her 2 front feet. That’s how they smell.

Predation is high among caterpillars. I do so hope these 2 escape detection, and you can experience their development through my blog. My fingers are crossed.


I just checked (September 16) and the second caterpillar I found was gone. The first one had molted and its appearance changed slightly.

With it this late in the summer, I think the caterpillar will overwinter as a caterpillar.


September 18. I just had a scare. I checked to see if the caterpillar survived our strong winds today. No caterpillar. I walked away, sad, and walked back for some reason. There was the little caterpillar moving along the midvein toward the end of the leaf. By the time I got back with the camera, this was my best shot. It was windy and 5 minutes from sunset.

Compare the shape of the leaf in this picture with the picture above.

My fingers are still crossed for its survival!

Finally! I Found One

I can’t believe I finally found a green lacewing. I’ve been looking for one since I found an egg 3 weeks ago.

The green lacewing’s body was all of a 1/2 inch long. The green-on-green didn’t advertise the lacewing’s presence. Only parts of its long antennae show in the picture.

The only reason I spotted this egg was with it being in the sunlight and the area behind it shaded. Green lacewings usually lay their eggs in a line. For some reason, there was only one on the leaf.

Green lacewings are found in meadows, gardens and forest edges throughout North America. The adults and larvae feed on small insects, especially aphids and nymphs of scale insects.