Posts Tagged ‘host plants’

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth

What I thought was a plume moth turned out to be a grapeleaf skeletonizer moth (Harrisina americana).

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Its host plants include wild grapes and Virginia creeper. Their length measures 8-12 mm and wingspan 18-28 mm.

Monkey Slug aka Hag Moth

(I’m so glad to finally be back to my blogging. I’ve been under the influence of a computer virus.)

Yes, this is a caterpillar that goes be the name either monkey slug, hag moth or Phobetron pithecium. The first one I saw looked like a small piece of carpet on the leaf. That was in the late 80’s.

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This was the second one I saw, and it was in my yard summer before last. Obviously, they aren’t common … or they’re easily overlooked. The head end is the one with the short “arms.” The arms are deciduous.

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The moth caterpillar molted soon after I found it in late September. There’s disagreement as to whether the caterpillar has stinging hairs or not. I found both opinions in my research.

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I wondered if the bright yellow at the end of the arms was for a diversionary tactic of some sort.

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These caterpillars are found in shrubby fields, woodlands and forests from Quebec to Maine, and south to Florida and Arkansas. The long list of their host  plants includes a long list of trees and woody shrubs.

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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.