Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Uns sobem, outros descem

with 18 comments

Caterpillar on Dry Stalk 7645

The title of today’s post is a Portuguese proverb that says “Some go up, others go down.” This caterpillar was clearly on its way down, but I can’t come down with any certainty on what species it was, though it looks like it might have been the caterpillar of a saltmarsh moth, Estigmene acrea; if anyone seeing this can confirm or correct that guess, please do. The flowers in the background were Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheels and Indian blankets, which abounded in central Texas this spring, as you’ve been seeing.

The date was May 17, and I found myself photographing along the entrance road to the Mahomet Cemetery in eastern Burnet County.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 7, 2013 at 6:18 AM

18 Responses

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  1. Wow, what incredible detail!! I can’t stop staring at it :).


    June 7, 2013 at 6:30 AM

  2. Great shot, Steve. Wonderful detail.


    June 7, 2013 at 7:06 AM

  3. Those tiny hairs looks so remarkably like cactus spines it would give me pause if I were thinking about caterpillar for breakfast.

    And as long as we’re trading proverbs and sayings, “Some go up, some go down” reminds me of “I don’t know whether I’m coming or going”.


    June 7, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    • Like you, I wondered if the hairs might tamp down a predator’s appetite. On the other hand, animals seem a lot less fastidious about what they swallow than people are.

      And speaking of coming and going, this caterpillar curled around and reversed course a number of times while I was photographing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2013 at 7:34 AM

  4. Loving the Portuguese theme! This one looks scary but gorgeous 🙂


    June 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    • Glad you liked the Portuguese adage. It’s been with me for decades.

      Some kinds of caterpillars can irritate people’s skin, but I don’t know if this is one of those. I took plenty of photographs but I never touched it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

  5. Looks like a caterpillar of the Tiger Moth to me


    June 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    • Thanks for that suggestion. I found a page from Texas A & M University that verbally compares two similar caterpillars, the one I mentioned and one type of tiger moth:


      Unfortunately it doesn’t include photographs for comparison, but I may be able to find images elsewhere.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    • Well, it’s not the Isabella tiger moth, because that caterpillar turns out to have black hairs at both ends of its body.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 7, 2013 at 3:35 PM

  6. Une vue du dessous très impressionnante!


    June 9, 2013 at 5:15 AM

  7. My immediate response to the adage is to read it as ‘what goes up must come down’. Love the crawler–but strictly visually: caterpillars are one of the few buggy things I find kind of repellant in close proximity, for some reason. Maybe the squish factor? Yet I still find them intriguing and sometimes quite beautiful, as long as I don’t think about touching them. 😀


    June 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    • I don’t touch caterpillars, either, because some of them are known to cause skin irritation in people.

      I like your phrase “squish factor.” Just this morning, at the Lindheimer House in New Braunfels, someone was asking about the identity of a fruit that had gotten stepped on on a walkway. I chimed in and said it was Frutus squishius.

      As for the Portuguese adage, your interpretation seems valid. I’ve always thought of it as meaning that in any human endeavor, there’ll simultaneously be some people succeeding and others failing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 9, 2013 at 4:30 PM

  8. Such a gorgeous, fascinating image! And it’s as though he’s trying to match those firewheels in the background. Just fantastic.


    June 9, 2013 at 10:57 PM

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