Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘caterpillar

Clammyweed

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Clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma) has appeared in several posts here. Because the most recent was in 2015, it’s high time to let you have another look at the helter-skelter inflorescence of this species. Notice the tiny bee in the lower part of the top picture. In the image below, you’re looking at a caterpillar on a clammyweed pod. Presumably the chomped-out part of the pod was inside the caterpillar at the time I made the portrait. Both of today’s photographs are from my neighborhood on October 6th.


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As someone who spent years studying linguistics, I often notice when someone uses a word in an unusual way. Take a look at this interchange:

Person A: This morning I went shopping for food and filled up a whole grocery cart.
Person B: How much did you spend?
Person A: The cash register rang up $217.65.
Person B: Wow, that cart of groceries cost you a lot!
Person A: Oh no, it cost me zero.
Person B: How do you figure that? I thought you said it cost you $217.65.
Person A: No, I said the register rang up $217.65. But then I paid the $217.65, so the groceries cost me zero.

Readers, what do you say? Is it true that the groceries cost Person A zero?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Eupithecia miserulata

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The scientific name in this post’s title is a mouthful, and the common name “common eupithecia” is hardly common outside of lepidopteran groups and entomological websites. The good folks at bugguide.net identified this moth larva for me. At least I knew that the flower head it was on at the entrance to Great Hills Park on May 18th was a firewheel, Gaillardia pulchella, also called Indian blanket and blanketflower. For a closer look at the little green eating machine, click the thumbnail below to zoom in.

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Here’s an item for the Fiction Rivals Reality department. On March 30, 1981, when recently inaugurated President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt, he seemed initially unharmed. Secret Service agent Jerry Parr then noticed a little foamy blood on Reagan’s mouth, realized he’d been hit after all, and saw to it that he was rushed to a hospital. According to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that refers to the book Zero Fail, by reporter Carol Leonnig: “When Parr was a kid he saw a 1939 movie, ‘Code of the Secret Service,’ which made him want to be an agent. The central character, fearless agent Brass Bancroft, was played by Ronald Reagan, whose life Parr saved some four decades later. Life is full of strange, unseen circularities.”

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Texas has many things inimical to human skin

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On November 20th I worked my way into the median on E. Howard Lane to photograph some fruit-bearing possumhaws and yaupons (Ilex decidua and vomitoria, respectively). On a couple of the trees I noticed several furry little tan or grey bundles that I later learned aren’t bundles of joy, at least not where human skin is concerned. Fortunately I didn’t touch any of the critters, which bugguide.net has identified as Megalopyge opercularis, known as the southern flannel moth caterpillar, puss caterpillar, asp, and perrito (Spanish for ‘puppy’). The Bugguide entry for this species includes a cautionary note: “Occasionally, in outbreak years, puss caterpillars are sufficiently numerous to defoliate some trees…. However, their main importance is medical. In Texas, they have been so numerous in some years that schools in San Antonio in 1923 and Galveston in 1951 were closed temporarily because of stings to children….” You’re welcome to read a more recent account of envenomations.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 23, 2020 at 4:18 AM

Stalking a caterpillar

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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

A colorful revisiting of Emerald Lake

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Hard to believe today marks three years since we stood at the edge of Emerald Lake in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park. Smoke from forest fires obscured the lake’s far shore but the turquoise color still came through to set off the slender red seed capsules of the fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) in the first photograph. On a different fireweed plant there I found the caterpillar of a bedstraw hawkmoth, Hyles gallii.

Although it was only a week into September,
so far north some foliage was already beginning to turn colors.

I was attracted to a bush with small white fruits and reddening leaves
that I take to be common snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 7, 2020 at 5:00 AM

Bedstraw hawkmoth caterpillar

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While walking around a stretch of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, on September 7th, we encountered a handsome caterpillar on a fireweed plant (Chamaenerion or Chamerion or Epilobium angustifolium). A member of bugguide.net identified, and another at Butterflies and Moths of North America later confirmed, my subject as the larva of Hyles gallii, a type of Sphinx moth known as a bedstraw hawkmoth.

A few of you may remember the forlorn Hyles lineata moth that appeared here in 2012.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2017 at 4:52 AM

Black swallowtail caterpillar

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When I wandered out onto a piece of the Blackland Prairie on the west side of Heatherwilde Blvd. in Pflugerville on April 30th, I noticed that one of the prairie parsley plants (Polytaenia nuttallii) was host to the caterpillar of an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes). You can learn more about this species in a Wikipedia article.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2017 at 5:01 AM

Green on green in the greenbelt

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green-larva-on-buffalo-gourd-leaf-1421

In the greenbelt off Taylor Draper Ln. on October 7th I found what I think is the larva of a moth on a leaf of what I know is a buffalo gourd vine, Cucurbita foetidissima.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 14, 2016 at 4:45 AM

The things we forget

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Woolly Bear Caterpillar on Gaura Flowers 1562

I recently searched my archive for a certain photograph, and in the process I discovered a set of pictures I’d forgotten all about that showed a woolly bear caterpillar on the flowers and buds of some gaura. Here’s one image in that set from May 6, 2010, on the Blackland Prairie along the Austin-Pflugerville boundary line.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2016 at 4:56 AM

New Zealand: Needle-leaf grass tree

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Needle-Leaf Grass Tree with Caterpillar 5855

During my visit to Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington on February 20th, I stopped to photograph the unusual shrub called the needle-leaf grass tree, Dracophyllum filifolium. The genus name means ‘dragon leaf’ and the species name means ‘thread leaf.’ Threads and needles I get, but a dragon?

If you’d like a closer look at the little larva I found on this specimen, you can click on the following alternate view to enlarge it.

Caterpillar on Needle-Leaf Grass Tree 5860

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 14, 2015 at 5:05 AM

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