Artistry in Nature – Spicebush Caterpillar

It has been over eleven years since we became the caretakers of this sliver of paradise. Piece by piece we have exposed the bones of the landscape and nurtured the earth to help her grow into her current state of equilibrium.

  Most days something unique crosses my path. More recently a camera accompanies me and I am honored to capture the unique, the beautiful, and sometimes the frightening. But one creature has alluded me these many years.  I’ve seen the fruition of transformation but I’ve never encountered this creature in its larval stage until now.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflu

And I must thank my Maddie for this chance encounter. She ventured into the woods with me but was reluctant to return.

Maddie in the woods

I had to go in to retrieve her and there by her side was a Spicebush seedling with the elusive creature clinging to one of its leaves.

DSCN5877

 

I hope you find this creature as amazing as I do. I feel it could have stepped out of the App Pokemon Go!

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar

DSCN5887

 

Caterpillars-Contemplating Their Transformative Nature

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!

I live in eastern Pennsylvania and like millions of others along the eastern coast of the United States we are in a deep freeze. The sun is shining through the skylight but the warmth is deceiving. Just tried to drive to a local winery, the back roads were drifted over thanks to wind gusts of up to 40 miles an hour. I need a warm weather connection! So enjoy with me one of the most transformative creatures – caterpillars!

All the beauties you see here have called the gardens their home before transforming and flying away…

Black swallowtail caterpillar on dill
Black Swallowtail caterpillar on dill plant
Evergreen Bagworm moth caterpillar
Evergreen Bagworm moth caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Silver-spotted Skipper Caterpillars on Harry Lauder Walking Stick
Silver-spotted Skipper caterpillars on Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick
White marked Tussock moth caterpillar
White-marked Tussock moth caterpillar
Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars
Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars
Saddleback Moth Caterpillar
Saddleback moth caterpillar next to acorn caps
Tussock Moth Caterpillar 2
Tussock moth caterpillar
Saddleback Caterpillar
Juvenile Saddleback caterpillars on native Spicebush
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Wooly Bear caterpillar
Monarch Caterpillar
Monarch caterpillar
Pale Tussock moth caterpillar
Pale Tussock moth caterpillar
Butternut Wooly Moth Caterpillar
Butternut Wooly moth caterpillar

 

Stage Two – Caterpillars

In science class we learn about the transformative ability of the four winged flying insects that float and flit about our gardens.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly pupa
Black Swallowtail Butterfly pupa

Step One – The Egg

Black Swallowtail Butterfly laying egg on Dill plant
Black Swallowtail Butterfly laying egg on Dill plant

Step Two – The Caterpillar

Juvenile Black Swallowtail CaterpillarBlack swallow tail caterpillar

A somewhat uniform shape

But an array of color, texture and patterns

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Milkweed Tussock moth Caterpillafs
Milkweed Tussock moth Caterpillars
Saddleback Caterpillar
Saddleback Caterpillar
Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Varagated Fritillary Caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Butternut Wooly Moth
Butternut Wooly Moth

Complementary Colors in the Natural World

Slate Blue – Teal – Orange Spice

Look down and see them separate

Blue Jay feather
Blue Jay feather

Or together

Octopus Stinkhorn fungus and the Fly
Clathrus columnatus , the Octopus stinkhorn and the Fly

Eye catching, unique, beautiful

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Gaia in all her glory

Octopust Stinkhorn fungus
Clathrus columnatus , the Octopus stinkhorn

Beginning with the pastels of Spring and continuing through the intense shades of Autumn,
the gardens of Valley View never disappoint.

How Does the Garden Grow – With Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

While carefully turning over Milkweed leaves to look for the Monarch caterpillar,

DSCN2636

I instead discovered a mass gathering of Euchaetes egle, the Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar.

Milkweed Tussock moth caterpillars

Their voracious appetite decimate plants in their path.

DSCN2795

DSCN2803