Butterflies…the gateway bug
Many people know us as the butterfly people, and that’s not a bad thing. We consider butterflies to be our gateway bug, since they were the first insects to spark our imagination and move us from being curious to being serious about studying nature. But now we continue to find excitement in so many different things hidden in our beautiful wildlife garden. If you just walk through the woods (or your own backyard) without really slowing down to see the details you will miss a world within a world. We were asked this week in an interview to describe something we learned about nature lately. Our reply was simply this, “The more we learn about nature, the more we realize that the things we don’t know far outweigh what we do know!”
Natural Bridge State Park
Last month we participated in the first caterpillar day event at the Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky. We spent the day with our butterfly friend Betty Hall and her husband and made some new friends as well. We had a ton of fun going on a hike with the park naturalists to find small moth caterpillars that we had not seen in our own neck of the woods. We’ve been raising the large silk moths for years, but we don’t have much experience with the smaller more common moths.
Marvelous moth caterpillars
Seeing first-hand the incredible variety of shapes and colors gave us a real appreciation for moth caterpillars. We were especially impressed with the stinging rose slugs. We know they have a weird name, but just look at those colors. By the way, you don’t want to handle one of these handsome fellows since they can give you a nasty sting. We’ve seen pictures of these particular caterpillars in field guides and spent a good deal of time searching for them on wild roses, with no luck. But we learned on our hike to look for them underneath the leaves of red bud trees. Wow!
Funny monkey slug
We also got to see an elusive monkey slug caterpillar, the immature stage of a hag moth. Did you know that the monkey slug can drop off some of its appendages if it feels threatened? This caterpillar is also capable of stinging you, so look but don’t touch.
We also got to see a white flannel moth caterpillar (again, beware of their poison-filled stinging hairs). By looking at this colorful caterpillar you would not imagine that a plain white moth would be the final result of its life cycle. So now that you’ve heard about our adventure, grab your camera and go have some of you own. Maybe we will see you out there! Finding caterpillars can be fun and educational. Remember you are never too old to learn and you will never know it all.
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