Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oak Moth Caterpillars and Their Parasitoids (Walk 8-15-10)

So here I finally go walking, my feet having improved enough for me to wander. I walked about a mile, taking one hour. One camera was harnessed to me and the others just a short way away, in the car. In my pocket were paper bags for any treasures I found. Ahhh, it's wonderful to be walking again!

One of the first things that caught my eye were quite a few of these white fuzzy caterpillars.  These are flannel moths and will sting.  When I returned home, Charlotte called and invited us over for supper.  I mentioned them to her and she showed me where she was stung this afternoon while moving limbs she cut from a tree by her door.  They are nasty little rascals.  This is one of the dangers we watch for when we're walking.

I found quite a few of these last year.  I believe that it is the Varieable Oakleaf Moth caterpillar. 

There were quite a few Duskywing butterfly caterpillars.  I won't post photos of all of them.  This is a big beautiful Duskywing caterpillar.

There were also a couple of brachnoid infected caterpillars.  Well, one caterpillar was missing.  I noticed a wasp flying around a couple of leaves sewn together and knew there would be a caterpillar inside.  I then saw the ants and knew that there may NOT be a caterpillar inside any longer.  Ants were carrying away the head capsule and the brachnoid wasp cocoons.  It's good to know that brachnoids have enemies too.

Another Duskywing caterpillar has holes in its side where brachnoid larvae exited the little thing.  They created their cocoons and the butterfly caterpillar crawls on top of them and stays there for days, until it dies.  There are some nasty stuff we find when we go hunt caterpillars!

Another moth caterpillar, a fuzzy interesting one with whiskers that it can be proud of!  This is a Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar.

Yippee - two Polyphemus Moth caterpillars. They're beautiful.

And two Polyphemus Moth eggs that hatched trichogramma wasps instead of the moth caterpillar. 

Then, on a wild plum tree, a Red-spotted Purple caterpillar.  One of its host plants was growing near it, so I don't know if it had crawled off to pupate or what ...

Dan Stahr made a suggestion that led me to a page that identifies this as the Yellow-shouldered Slug - Lithacodes fasciola.  I like google.

A shadow on an oak leaf above my head caught my attention.  A closer look revealed that it was simply large green eggs.  Hmmm, what lays eggs like this on oak trees?  They're about the size of BBs. 

I haven't seen one of these for five or six years.  It's a fungus or some sort that kills lepidoptera. This WAS an adult moth. 

Another baddie.  An aleiodes wasp mummified the caterpillar and emerged from the abdomen.  This is what is left.  Last year it was a different species of caterpillar that I found mummified with a hole in the abdomen.  Last year we even found some that had the wasp still inside and was able to emerge the wasp in a container.  This year I'm keeping better records.

Two leaves close together are irresistible.  These caterpillars are found fairly often out there.  I have no clue what it is.

And The Laugher Moth caterpillar.  Yes, it's called 'The Laugher'. 

On one egg batch of some sort of critter there were at least three trichogramma wasps. I took photos of these two and then removed the wasps and put the eggs in a little cup. Wonder how many are infected ....
Trichogramma Wasps

I found quite a few bagworm moth caterpillars.  I'm only posting a photo of one of them.  They're cool.

It took almost as long to edit the photos and post them here than it took to find them.  My searches focus on oak trees primarily.  For some reason, I just wanted to document all larvae I find on oaks on our property last year and I'm carrying it over into this year too.

If you know the identity of any of these and would like to share it, please leave a comment or email me at

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