Sunday, November 21, 2010

Year of The Caterpillar

This has certainly been the year of the caterpillar. I had more this year than any year I can remember. It certainly makes me wonder what causes over abundances of certain critters in certain years. While some years we have so many frogs of different varieties in the ponds that the evenings are deafening, this year we hardly had any. I must say I would rather have noisy evenings than caterpillars though. While they may turn into beautiful butterflies and moths, they can sure do some damage to the garden.



Tomatoes in the garden? Yep, you'll have these.



I don't know if there are little bitty Horn Worm Caterpillars or not but I had a bunch of tiny ones as well.
I much prefer the woolly ones as they are just more fun to play with.
They were on the Tall Rosen Weed.

They ate the Cleome.
They were on the Granite Gaura.

They even ate a lot of the Blue Bonnets. I didn't think anything would eat a Blue Bonnet.
Around the Welding shop was a type of horn worm that I haven't seen before. They were all similar but different as well.



And then there is the woolly bears. I think every one has these. But all summer long? I'm still seeing these around the garden and we've already had several light frosts.

My friend, Tom Nash, had caterpillars around his house by the thousands and they were not like any that I had. They were only feeding on one type of weed in his yard and really didn't bother any thing.

While most of the caterpillar species we have seen were in major abundance we only spotted one of each of these two varieties. This one looks like a south Austin artist painted it.


This one was on a lily pad in one of the ponds. And yes, it was eating it. The brilliant chartreuse color was absolutely stunning.




The side view revealed other colors I couldn't see from above. This was truly a stunning example of natures art work.


While they can be a pain in the butt to deal with sometimes, they are still a beautiful part of nature even before the beauty they eventually become.



8 comments:

The Whimsical Gardener said...

I'm glad to hear you say that they have been exceptionally numerous in your garden this year. Mine too although we didn't have as many butterflies this fall as in years past. It was a great year for anoles though...it is interesting to wonder about the variables that contribute to such diversity every season. How did you not get stung by the yellow fuzzy guy? My son was stung the other day by the same little guy!

Bob said...

It's probably because my hands are one big callous of leather like skin. Are you sure it wasn't an asp that stung your son? They are about that color but have much thicker hair on them.

Lee said...

Nice Bob! I love caterpillars and you have such a good collection of them there. I'm surprised that the swallowtail caterpillar was eating on water lily. Interested. Just to provide some IDs on the others (though you certainly didn't ask). That cool spiky one at the end is an Io Moth caterpillar (Automeris io). Those variable hornworms are the White-lined sphinx, Hyles lineata, which is a common one around here (http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/hlinelin.htm). Cool!

Bob said...

Thanks Lee, I didn't know what they were, but it's nice to know. I don't ever kill them but they might get flying lessons before they get their wings as I toss them into the weeds out side the yard.

ESP said...

Hi Bob.
What a great catalog of the local caterpillars, and you had some beauties! Like you, I have never seen so many as this year, especially the woolly bears. At one point it was hard to walk on my pathways without standing on one, and can they move when they want to!
Great post Bob.
ESP.

Bonnie said...

Great photos. I had lots of swallowtails and hornworms in the veggie gardens. And then had the gulf fritillary (sp?) on the passion vine.

Rosie Q said...

About a million woolly bears in my yard, too - and all black, almost no brown showing. Does that mean a hard winter ahead?

I looked for your contact info - I borrowed a picture of yours from a year or two for our newsletter and I hope you will forgive me.

Rosie Q said...

That went through on my wrong profile - I'm rweaver@austinparks.org if you want to follow up!