Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Stalking a caterpillar

with 47 comments

At Barkley Meadows Park in Del Valle on November 6th a caterpillar sat for its portrait.
I’m afraid I don’t know the sitter’s identity; whatever it is, every day must be a bad-hair day.

UPDATE: based on a comment from Shoreacres and further comparisons of photographs,
I’ll add that this appears to be a salt marsh caterpillar, Estigmene acrea.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 20, 2020 at 4:33 AM

47 Responses

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  1. Oh, what a great portrait! I love the hairy ones, but am careful not to touch them.


    November 20, 2020 at 4:38 AM

    • I kept my hands on the camera, taking care, as you said, not to put them on the caterpillar. Other than learning each species, I wonder if there’s a way to tell which ones are dangerous to touch.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 5:46 AM

  2. What Heyjude said. Those hairs somewhat guarantee a good hair day as most often they protect them from predators just like the Flannel Moth in LInda’s recent post. They may not all be as toxic but definitely discourage swallowing. This is a nice look at some hungry munching going on.

    Steve Gingold

    November 20, 2020 at 5:00 AM

    • I assure you that swallowing the subject never crossed my mind. My predation consisted entirely of taking pictures, mostly from the side; for variety I chose to show this limited-focus, here’s-looking-at-you portrait.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 5:51 AM

  3. I can’t say I’ve ever seen such an excellent caterpillar pose! Mostly we see the side view. That is one wildly-hairy specimen. It reminds me of the 80’s hair bands – like he’s screaming into a mic at a rock concert!


    November 20, 2020 at 6:16 AM

    • This guy was quite a poser, no question. I did take most of my pictures from the side, including a few showing clouds in the distance, but I decided to show this view that’s more like a personal portrait, and which you don’t often see of a caterpillar. I don’t have any experience with ’80s hair bands so I looked at online pictures to see what you were referring to. I think I’ll take the caterpillar.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 6:55 AM

    • My thoughts exactly–80s Glam Rocker!


      November 20, 2020 at 9:51 AM

  4. Such a COOL CAPUTRE – L-O-V-EEEEE!!!


    November 20, 2020 at 7:56 AM

  5. A hairy creature with a golden face, what a rare specimen you captured with your camera, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    November 20, 2020 at 8:44 AM

  6. You caught his cute face so well! He’s kind of porcupine-looking, isn’t he/she? That’s a great shot, Steve!


    November 20, 2020 at 9:24 AM

    • There is something porcupiny about it, isn’t there? And both caterpillars and porcupines can be enemies of human skin. Fortunately I’ve experience neither kind of attack, and I hope you haven’t, either.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 10:19 AM

  7. That is a perfect head-on shot! That caterpillar looks like it has a little bear face.

    Lavinia Ross

    November 20, 2020 at 9:42 AM

    • The previous commenter suggested a porcupine, and now you’ve added a bear. Even those who don’t see a bear face can see a bare face.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 10:21 AM

  8. Scary!!! That’s hysterical, Steve. 🙂


    November 20, 2020 at 11:00 AM

  9. It looks like a flower gone to seed. 😀 It’s a great camouflage I think.


    November 20, 2020 at 1:50 PM

    • Now that’s imaginative: a caterpillar as a flower gone to seed. The overall brown tones of the image accord with that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 5:34 PM

      • I marvel and wonder about nature very often. So much of the coloring and markings lend themselves to blending in and hiding, but being beautiful at the same time. So unlike me who stumbles and bumbles loudly through this world using clothes and makeup to attract and hide… depending on the situation. 😀


        November 21, 2020 at 8:25 AM

        • That’s a clever segue from natural to human camouflage. Maybe you should do a post on that theme.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 21, 2020 at 8:34 AM

  10. Yikes! 😀

    Eliza Waters

    November 20, 2020 at 4:21 PM

  11. Pretty critter – love the DOF


    November 20, 2020 at 8:24 PM

    • Yes, at this angle not much other than the face is in focus. The pictures that I took from the side, while having more in focus, are probably less interesting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2020 at 9:21 PM

  12. My first impression was that this is a salt marsh caterpillar (Estigmene acrea). Given what you’ve said about this spot, and the photos you’ve posted, it seems as though it would be a likely place to find them. I have some photos from other perspectives here, and they might offer a clue to this one’s identity.

    All that said, it’s a wonderful portrait. I like the munched stem particularly. It’s one of those little details that can really ‘make’ a photo.


    November 21, 2020 at 7:31 AM

    • I also thought this might be a salt marsh caterpillar. When I looked at pictures online, though, there seemed to be a lot of variation and I couldn’t draw a conclusion, so I didn’t hazard a guess in my text. In comparing your linked pictures to one of the other ones I took of this caterpillar, I do see those black spots on the underside, so you’re most likely right that this was a salt marsh caterpillar. I’ve added an update to that effect. Thanks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2020 at 8:45 AM

  13. Hairy little devil! Speaking of bad hair … I’ve seen some from afar lately … long and gray and unruly. My hair has gotten too long and while I’d like to get it cut, I don’t want to chance it … besides, nobody sees me these days … except my son and husband and they are stuck with me! 😀


    November 21, 2020 at 1:12 PM

    • You’re funny today. First with “hairy little devil” and then the fact that your son and husband are stuck with you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2020 at 4:00 PM

  14. Super hairy shot Steve! 🙂


    November 26, 2020 at 1:35 AM

  15. I love this perspective! Up close and personal, trading some hair styling tips.

    Todd Henson

    November 26, 2020 at 11:34 AM

    • It’s a true portrait. I’m glad you agree. As for hair, this is more about non-styling than styling.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 26, 2020 at 1:14 PM

  16. It’s not a bad hair day; merely 80s style.


    November 30, 2020 at 5:14 PM

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