NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Giant Leopard Moth

new stuff 2012 007pointsMy previous Nature Knowledge post, from today, inspired me to look through my photos of caterpillars. I made another great find that I will probably keep next time that I encounter one. Above, is a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. This prickly fellow is not poisonous like the Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar, although he looks formidable. In fact, Giant Leopard Moths feed on broad leaf plants, rather than, decimating trees. I had found this caterpillar at my camp doorstep in New York State. I’m sorry, now, that I did not identify it sooner. It must have been coming out from an eave where it had wintered.

English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon,...
English: A baby moth that hatched from cocoon, raised the larval state black fuzzy caterpillar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a lovely moth to behold! (Personally, I prefer moths to butterflies but they are nocturnal and are harder to find.) The photo specimen above, was an actual successful rearing of a caterpillar to adult.

Here’s another borrowed photo:

Giant Leopard Moth
Giant Leopard Moth (Photo credit: cotinis)

Interesting Facts

  • It might look dangerous when it is a caterpillar but it is not poisonous and hence can be an easy pet for children.
  • They get attracted to electric lights during the night, but some experts conclude that more than the females, the males can be seen doing so with the beginning of summer.
  • Since they navigate effectively in moonlight, electric lights can baffle them, causing them to hover around them.
  • The caterpillars can roll itself like a ball to mislead its predators, in which it exposes its spines and the orange segments lying between.
  • These moths are often regarded helpful in controlling invasive plant species.
  • On being alarmed, glands located in the thorax region can produce a stinking liquid to ward off predators.

My caterpillar photo was from last Spring. Hey, I’ve got some searching to do this weekend! The kids may enjoy raising one, almost as much as, I. 😉

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Quick ID~ Moth or Butterfly

There a few tips that you can keep in mind in order to quickly distinguish a moth from a butterfly. Although they belong to the same larger group of insects, there are some rules (with, of course, some exceptions) to follow. Directly below there is a Luna moth. Notice the “feathery” antennae. Moth feelers lack a club-like tip too.

Butterflies have more narrow Q-tip-shaped antennae . See the Great Spangled Fritillary  butterfly below for example.

Another tip : If you see the insect in the bright sun of daytime, it is most likely a butterfly. Moths prefer the shadows and night.

Moths are usually drab in color while butterflies have bright colors. There are exceptions though.

Butterflies most often have a slender body with moths generally looking stout and furry.

When moths are at rest, they usually lay their wings flat along the surface of their post. Butterflies usually keep their wings upright and perpendicular to their spot. (see photos)

Butterflies have free hanging translucent “containers” spun from their caterpillars called chrysalises. Moth caterpillars spin cocoons of soft silk for their metamorphism.

These fascinating creatures share their ability to turn from a worm-like caterpillar into a graceful flying wonder. Hope this post adds to your pleasure when viewing Nature.

A butterfly chrysalis
photo credit: Wikipedia
a moth cocoon
photo credit: Wikipedia