Tuesday, April 28, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast

This is the Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scibonia, and this photo was taken last fall in November or there abouts. I always assumed they made cocoons and over wintered but boy was I wrong.

Here is probably the same Giant Leopard caterpillar in a picture I took earlier this week. It's about 5 inches long now! They're commonly seen in the fall along with Woolly Bear caterpillars, but now that it's spring their grazing has turned nocturnal.

According to "Caterpillars of Eastern North America" by David L. Wagner, I read that common food plants are broadly popyphagous, many forbs or woody plants, including cherry, dandelion, oak, plantain, sunflower, violet, and willow. Here in the photo it's hard to tell but it is eating a dandelion. During the day he probably takes refuge in our wood pile.