From Dawn to Dusk

Dawn 11.22.14Dawn 11.22.14

It’s that time of year that my sleep schedule gets all kinds of messed up. Of course, it didn’t help that last night David and I were playing video games into the wee hours of the morning, lol. We stayed up until sunrise this morning. It’s not often that I get to watch the sun rising because I’m simply not a morning person; but since we hadn’t been to bed yet, it made for a nice meditation moment before finally heading to bed. And the coyotes were howling like nothing I’ve ever heard before! I have yet to actually see one, but we hear them often here.

After we woke up this afternoon, I was pleased to find the day so warm and inviting. We’ve had some bitter cold days here already, even a couple of snow showers, which is not typical for this time of year. I spent most of the afternoon outdoors. We decided to turn off the heat and open the doors up to change out the air in the house a little and give the cats some freedom to go in and out as they please. Today, to my delight, I saw a red-tailed hawk flying overhead. A little while later, I heard the familiar call of Sandhill Cranes and looked to the sky to see a huge flock of them flying overhead.

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #1Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #1

I happened to glance down at the ground and notice this Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar. The neighbor’s 5-year-old was outside with me at this point and asked if he could hold it. I told him that this one was fine to hold, showing him the red bands to identify it, but also told him to never handle fuzzy caterpillars without asking someone first because some of them do sting. The caterpillar remained in its defensive ball as he cautiously held it. I love to see kids this curious about nature. He asked if he could take a photo, too; and I have to say, that his photo below of me holding the caterpillar turned out very nice!

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #2Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar #2

After a quick hike down to the creek and back, it seemed only fitting to finish the day off with a photo of the sunset. 🙂

Dusk 11.22.14Dusk 11.22.14

Today’s Theme Is “Orange”

Orange Caterpillar #2Orange Caterpillar #2

Sorting through images today, I noticed that I have several with a similar color theme, orange. I thought I would do these all together in a photo-dump since I’m so far behind in posting. These first two are a couple of my favorites, but I have no idea what species of caterpillar this is. Help with IDs are welcomed as always.

Orange Caterpillar #1Orange Caterpillar #1

Orange Capped MushroomOrange Capped Mushroom

Small Orange ButterflySmall Orange Butterfly

Orange BugOrange Bug

Fossilized StoneFossilized Stone

Orange EyeOrange Eye

Orange WaspOrange Wasp

Woolly Bear

Woolly Bear by pixygiggles
Woolly Bear, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

Another photo from earlier last month, a Woolly Bear Caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) on a Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). Hopefully my ID’s on these are correct. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) So often I’ve heard the old folktale that Woolly Bear Caterpillars can predict the weather.

“According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is (i.e., the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.” [Source: Predicting Winter Weather: Woolly Bear Caterpillars]

However, according to that source article I found on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, Predicting Winter Weather: Woolly Bear Caterpillars, it’s more likely that the brown band represents the previous winter rather than predicting the future winter. Again, from that same article:

Most scientists discount the folklore of woolly bear predictions as just that, folklore. Says Ferguson from his office in Washington, “I’ve never taken the notion very seriously. You’d have to look at an awful lot of caterpillars in one place over a great many years in order to say there’s something to it.”

Mike Peters, an entomologist at the University of Massachusetts, doesn’t disagree, but he says there could, in fact, be a link between winter severity and the brown band of a woolly bear caterpillar. “There’s evidence,” he says, “that the number of brown hairs has to do with the age of the caterpillar—in other words, how late it got going in the spring. The [band] does say something about a heavy winter or an early spring. The only thing is . . . it’s telling you about the previous year.”

It’s still a fun story, and I can see why it became folklore. 😉

Day 290 Autumn Caterpillar

Day 291 Autumn Caterpillar by pixygiggles
Day 290 Autumn Caterpillar, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

I didn’t get my walk last week, so I went today. This caterpillar was by far my favorite find of the day. I have no idea which species it is, and I’ve exhausted all of my usual identification tools. I’ll have to ask for some help on Project Noah with this one. If anyone recognizes it, please, do tell. I’m obsessed with knowing the proper names for all of my finds.

Cane Creek Park is full of color as the trees transition into their autumn splendor. I love the scent in the air that accompanies autumn and the cool, brisk temperatures.

The allergies, I could do without. The walk relieved the dull headache I’ve had for the past couple of days, at least, temporarily. It returned with a vengeance as I made my way back home. I’m thinking some hot tea and Benadryl might be in order for the evening.

Update: The good people over at Project Noah solved the mystery yet again. This is a Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar, Acronicta oblinita.  It is best use caution with this type of caterpillar because they can “sting” if handled.

Day 263 A Beautiful Caterpillar

I was as giddy as a school girl when I found this caterpillar in some bushes by my house. It was big, at least 3 inches long! I thought it might be a Tobacco Hornworm or Tomato Hornworm, but the yellow spikes on its head and horn are unlike those two species. Any help in identification would be greatly appreciated!

My camera’s battery died shortly after taking the two shots above. After my neighbor snapped off the branch to get a closer look at the caterpillar, I put it and the branch in my little plastic pet keeper while I considered keeping it for further observation. It rested the entire hour and a half that it took to recharge the battery, barely moving at all. It only became active right about the time the sun started going down. Since I couldn’t determine exactly which species I had found, I decided the most humane thing to do was to release it after a few more photos.

It would have been a great pleasure to watch this caterpillar transform into the butterfly or moth (probably moth) it will one day become. I just don’t have the heart to cage a creature that has always known freedom. Instead, I returned it to the bush where I found it and wished it well, wherever it may go. At least, I got a few great photos and a short video! 🙂

Update: 9.21.12The wonderfully helpful people over on Project Noah helped me identify this caterpillar as a Rustic Sphinx, Manduca rustica.

Day 253 Nature Intertwined

Day 253 Nature Intertwined by pixygiggles
Day 253 Nature Intertwined, a photo by pixygiggles on Flickr.

David found this caterpillar on the porch railing while we were outside earlier. Since it stuck out like a sore thumb there, I moved it to some vines growing in the yard to give it better camouflage. I left it there after photographing it.

I think it might be an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar, though its small size makes me second guess my ID. Those caterpillars feed on black cherry trees which would explain why it was on the railing. It must have fallen from the leaves onto the porch.

After realizing this, I felt guilty for having moved it so far away from the tree to the vine, which was on the other side of the yard; so I went back outside after dark with a flashlight to search for this caterpillar. I found it very quickly, still on the vine, and moved it back into the leaves of the tree.

I find myself sitting here questioning why I would do that and whether or not others would do the same. I suppose my reasoning is simply that everything deserves a fighting chance, no matter how big or small. I doubt many people personify insects or other animals in the same way that I do, but my conscience nagged me into giving this caterpillar a better chance of survival.