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: Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpeckers are often a delightful sighting. They are as large as crows and their bright red heads and large wingspan have a shocking effect. Their cackle in the forest reminds me of a sound in Tarzan movie jungles.

I was delighted to discover a nest of these largest woodpeckers right in my yard at our camp site in upstate New York. I wasn’t able to study their goings-on as much as I would have liked. I have tremendous patience when it comes to photographing and observing birds but my family draws me away often. Theses few photos are enhanced for clarity but were not my best efforts had I had the luxury of camping alone.

The birds were happily unaffected by the family bustling beneath the nesting tree and placing my camera out while keeping and ear and eye on the tree, produced a few captures to share.

These birds love to eat carpenter ants. Their numbers had dwindled in the past 10 years due to a disruption of their forest habitat from logging and building houses.

As I am at the computer (at home in Northwestern Massachusetts) , I just heard a Pileated Woodpecker outside of my window. I know I am highly tuned to them from my sightings but can’t help but think they are having a “good” year and adapting well in semi-urban settings.

This very morning, the mother bird was hanging around in trees just beyond her nest. She did not approach it and I did not hear the babies crying out for food. I may have photographed the babies’ last feeding hours before they moved out as this year’s fledglings.

I’ll be keeping an eye and ear out for more…

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Spring Azure Butterfly

Spring Azure

These small butterflies are plentiful in May. Their wing span ranges from 3/4 inch to 1 1/8 inches.

After researching these beauties, I found that scientists report a separate Summer Azure species. I must keep an eye out for them. The summer variety are supposedly bluer and larger.

Since the greater number of flowers are yet to be, I find them predominantly on my driveway stones at our forest retreat in upstate New York.

They feed on the flowering parts of dogwood trees. I’m sure that those (above) are the legitimate Spring variety since I captured those images in early May several years ago. Watch for them near deciduous forests and meadows.

Click on the photos to magnify your view. They have the most beautiful delicate faces!