Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘larva

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

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

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

Purple

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Sawfly Larvae 8773

I’d never seen a purple caterpillar,
I never thought I’d see one,
But now I’ll stand atop a theater pillar
And proclaim that there really can be one.*

Okay, sources say these sawfly larvae (of indeterminate genus) aren’t truly caterpillars, but let’s not quibble over the word. The critters were having a good time on an Indian mallow plant, Abutilon fruticosum, that I’d stopped to photograph on June 25th in the greenbelt off Taylor Draper Cove. The colors in the background came from a flowering Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheel, blanketflower, and Indian blanket. In particular, notice how the most prominent red head of one of the sawfly larvae is color-coordinated with the center of the firewheel.

UPDATE: This sawfly has been identified as Neoptilia tora. If you follow that link you can see what an adult looks like. As entomologist Mike Quinn explained in an e-mail on August 17: “Long story short, Dan Hardy, of Austin, reared some purple larvae he collected back in 2007 and sent an adult to Texas A&M University. Some years later, David R. Smith, the sawfly expert from the Smithsonian, visited the TAMU Insect Collection and ID’ed Dan’s specimen. Yesterday, Ed Riley and I looked for and found Dan’s spmn.”

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* You may recognize this as a parody of Gelett Burgess’s “Purple Cow.” If you’re not sure what a theater pillar is, neither am I.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 14, 2015 at 5:14 AM

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