Coat of caterpillar colors

September 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The goldenrods have been prime for a good month, and on every walk, I comb them, leaves and flowers, for insect life, one species in particular. The Brown-hooded Owlet Caterpillar is, notes uber caterpillarologist David Wagner in his Peterson Field Guide to larval lepidopterans, "stunningly colored in yellow, red, black, and white.... This is one of our most beautiful and oft-asked about caterpillars. Each individual appears as if it were hand-painted and then glazed." That description sums up the glory of this amazing youngster, a 180-degree contrast to the drabness of the adult it will become next year. These beauties are not common, but concerted searching in the goldenrods and asters the caterpillars dote on can usually turn up a few members of the Cucullia convexipennis clan every season. Tonight, I finally found one, and it seemed quite happy to simply continue munching on flowers and leaves while I positioned the lighting equipment and camera to capture its Joseph's-coat remarkable appearance.


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