Time to get outside
October 10, 2022
Top Photo: Banded sphinx moth caterpillar.
A banded sphinx moth caterpillar is an impressive sight. The one shown here is munching away on wing-leaved primrose-willow in our wetlands.
Banded sphinx moth caterpillars are variable and may be nearly all green, much like its relatives, the tobacco hornworm and tomato hornworm, mostly green with black, red, and yellow markings or like the one pictured, which is marked with red, black, and yellow. Regardless, they all have the white diagonal stripes characteristic of many sphinx moth caterpillars.
The wing-leaved primrose-willow pictured is named for the flower’s likeness to primrose and, of course, the “winged” stems and fruit of the plant.
Nearby, on black willow, was a white marked tussock moth caterpillar. The caterpillar may be preparing to form a cocoon.
It had been some time since I’d seen a belted kingfisher in our wetlands, when a female flew in. The bird made a few circles around the wetlands trying out different perches. She apparently didn’t like what she saw and took off for parts unknown after less than a quarter of an hour.
Carolina chickadees are here all year long, winter, spring, summer, and fall. Every trip around the outdoor loops, any loop, will at some point put you in contact with a chickadee.
They’re resourceful little birds and eat a variety of foods like seeds, fruit (including poison ivy berries), insects, and other invertebrates, and will even pick at a carcass, mostly for the fat it contains.
Wander Away is still attracting butterflies with its fall-blooming flowers.
Tawny emperors are closely tied to hackberry trees as are their close relative the hackberry emperors. Both butterflies are likely to land on you if on the butterfly’s home turf, as the one in the photo nearly did to me as I stalked it to get the photos seen here. It came very close but balked at the last second. They’re after minerals in sweat. It was very cool on the day I encountered this butterfly, no sweat.
And finally, late summer and early fall are when Orthoptera mature and begin the reproductive process. Below is a handsome meadow katydid, stridulating for all to hear from the main stem of a wing-leaved primrose willow. The insect is rubbing modified portions of his wings together in order to create a high-pitched sound (a sound that I can no longer hear without amplification) announcing his presence and or readiness to reproduce.
So, before you miss any more of the action, get out there and see what’s going on!