I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
- North America (155)
- South America (171)
- Amphibians (10)
- Frogs and Toads (10)
- Arachnids (41)
- Fungi (3)
- Insects (215)
- Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives (44)
- Barklice (1)
- Beetles (27)
- Butterflies and Moths (55)
- Cockroaches (2)
- Dragonflies (1)
- Earwigs (1)
- Flies (20)
- Grasshoppers and Relatives (9)
- Mantids (3)
- Net-winged Insects (7)
- Termites (5)
- Thrips (1)
- True Bugs (57)
- Walkingsticks (1)
- Webspinners (1)
- Mammals (2)
- Millipedes (1)
- Polyxenids (1)
- Plants (3)
- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.
Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.
All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above.
I might not have noticed this caterpillar during the day, but after dark it stood out in the light of my headlamp.
Despite its defenses, this caterpillars appears to have ended up with some parasite eggs, a tachinid fly perhaps.
I suspect this caterpillar is closely related to similar looking nymphalid butterfly caterpillars in the genus Adelpha. Some are generally referred to as moss caterpillars because the various body projections give the appearance of moss. It may not be obvious from these photos, but check out this photoÂ from Flickr user artour_a.
I’ve encountered a similar caterpillar before in a different part of Brazil, although that one was probably an earlier instar and was shades of brown.
Scanning the foliage, I spotted some overturned leaf fragments suspiciously resting on top of the leaves they’d been carved from. Lifting the first one up, I found it was concealing a small caterpillar.
Here’s a leaf fragment concealing another smaller caterpillar. That might be the egg the caterpillar hatched from at the top of the photo.
And here the little inhabitant is revealed. Note the silk used to secure the leaf fragment in place. I like that it was careful to leave a small hinge.
I collected this little chrysalis while I was in the field the day before I took this photo. I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good photo at the time, and I was curious to see what might emerge. Strangely, looking at this with my own eye, it appears opaque with a silvery and gold surface. With the camera and flash, it appears as above, somewhat transparent and showing what looks like a wing inside. I figured it would only be a short time to see the butterfly that might emerge. Well, I was half right.
The more I observe nature, the more I realize that parasites rule. Â So far this trip, I’ve accumulated dozens of photos to prove my point, including the one above.
Believe it or not, this caterpillar was still alive. The parasites, wasps presumably, are long gone.
Did you find the moth in the image above? If not, don’t feel bad. I might not have seen it either, except I originally spotted the moth in a more conspicuous location. After a few shots (below), I deliberately spooked it in hopes that it would land in a location suitable for a crypsis challenge. Here’s an outline if you still need a little help finding it.
Here’s where I originally spotted it. Not blending in so well, is it?
This moth’s shape suggests it might be in the family Tortricidae. It’s small, only about 15mm measured lengthwise in the photo below.
This pretty little moth was sitting on a leaf, imitating a bird dropping perhaps. A tortricid?
I have no idea what kind of moth this is, but I like its attempt to look very unlike a moth.