Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A hairy caterpillar

with 32 comments

Woolly Bear Caterpillar on Dry Stalk 8416

When wandering beneath the power lines west of Morado Circle on December 17th I also encountered this hairy caterpillar on a dry stalk. I can’t say for sure, but it might be the larva of a salt marsh moth, Estigmene acrea.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2014 at 6:02 AM

32 Responses

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  1. it looks like a porcupine! it made me smile! z

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    February 2, 2014 at 6:11 AM

    • I made you smile, I made you smile,
      I left you rolling in the aisle.
      Come back for more, come back for more,
      From far away in Ecuador.

      (That’s an updated version of a ditty that used to circulate when I was a kid:
      “I made you look, I made you look, I made you buy a penny book.” It must have been pretty old, because no book was as cheap as a penny even when I was little. On the other hand, I recently saw a book selling for a penny on Amazon, where they charge at least $4 for the shipping and so still make money.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 6:46 AM

  2. That’s funny – it made me smile too :). It’s soooo fuzzy!


    February 2, 2014 at 6:33 AM

  3. Now that’s up close and personal.


    February 2, 2014 at 7:56 AM

  4. mmmmm…tasty stem. Not much nutritional value there. But very filling.

    Jim in IA

    February 2, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    • I know it looks like the caterpillar was nibbling the tip of the stalk, but I think it had just paused there because it couldn’t go any higher.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 8:52 AM

  5. I’m wondering (1) how many shots you took of this little guy to get the point of focus just right … and (2) whether you were on auto or manual focus? I like the way the light plays off the bristles as well. On another matter … and, please forgive me for eavesdropping on other comments … I have only seen the word ‘propinquity’ used one other time … ever … and that was in a piece regarding measures of genealogical closeness between King Crabs and Hermit Crabs. Turns out that King Crabs are more closely related to certain Hermit Crabs than those same certain Hermit Crabs are related to other Hermit Crabs! The point being that we must be careful when we draw conclusions about the relationship between man, chimps, and gorillas when looking at external appearances alone. When looking at morphology the latter two (chimps and gorillas) are grouped within the Pongids with humans in the separate group, the Hominids. Functionally, this makes sense, as gorillas and chimps are both knuckle walkers, have fur over most of their bodies, and possess similar sized brains. We must be careful, however, because genetic analysis suggests that chimps and humans shared a common ancestor well after the gorillas branched off, so we must conclude that chimps are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. In terms of their propinquity, humans and chimps are more closely related than either is to gorillas. Sorry for the digression … D

    Pairodox Farm

    February 2, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    • In checking my archives, I see I took 29 pictures of the caterpillar. To focus my macro lens, I often set it to manual and either turn the focusing ring or move the whole camera slowly forwards and backwards till the important part of the subject looks sharp through the viewfinder (yes, I’m old fashioned and need a real through-the-lens viewfinder). Sometimes I use autofocus to quickly get the distance approximately right, then fine-tune from there. That approach is my normal way to go when I’m steadying the subject with my left hand and holding the camera with my right, which means I don’t have a hand free to turn the focusing ring.

      Reading other people’s comments is part of blogging, and good things can come from interactions among readers. I sometimes reply directly to comments that people have left on other blogs, and other people do that here from time to time. As for propinquity, I seem to remember learning that word in high school. I took Latin in 9th, 10th, and 12th grades (had to wait a year for the next-lowest class to catch up so there’s be enough kids to warrant a section of Latin III), so I probably knew that the Latin word prope, on which propinquity is based, meant ‘close.’ (I say probably, because I’ve learned more Latin in later decades, so I can’t always be sure what I knew way back then.)

      Thanks for the explanation of why people are genetically closer to chimps than to gorillas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 10:00 AM

  6. nice image (as always) and good ID. They seem to really like Eupatorium capillifolium, at least in my area.

    John Bradford

    February 2, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    • I didn’t see anything like Eupatorium near the caterpillar, but one of the links listed in my link says of the salt marsh moth: “Most commonly, late instar larvae are found individually or in large numbers ambling over the soil, searching for suitable food.” This caterpillar, then, could have come a good distance from the original host plant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM

  7. That stem surely does look similar to the Mexican Hat stem you showed in your previous post. It’s such an appealing photo, and brought another wonderful caterpillar to mind.

    “Hairy and green, hairy and green –
    the best pair of larvae you ever have seen!”


    February 2, 2014 at 9:38 AM

  8. What a beautiful image – so sparkly!


    February 2, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    • I, too, noticed those glints of light on the caterpillar’s hairs. The fact that the glints increase toward the bottom of the picture may have to do with the angle of the sun.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM

  9. I do like this hairy fellow.
    fantastic shot.


    February 2, 2014 at 8:58 PM

  10. Reblogged this on How my heart speaks and commented:
    I really like this


    February 4, 2014 at 12:34 PM

  11. Perfect shot!


    February 4, 2014 at 9:19 PM

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