Already Carrie has been gathering monarch caterpillars – over 140 last I heard! Butterflies are all over the place and they have been busy, for now we are finding all sorts of caterpillars around.
This morning Gary came in with a thorny caterpillar he and Paul had discovered in some stinging nettles. We looked it up in Caterpillars of Eastern North America by host plant, and there it was: the red admiral.
The white markings on its sides were a good clue.
We will return it to the nettles so it can continue to grow and prosper.
About an hour later Pat, another volunteer, came in with this caterpillar:
Two times through the book and I’m no further along with an ID. That’s frustrating. But fortunately I have a back-up plan: BugGuide.net!
As is usual with the folks over at BugGuide, I had an answer in less than five minutes: yellow-striped armyworm. AKA: cotton cutworm. Lots of variation in the colors of this caterpillar, some mostly brown with hardly any yellow or green. Not a particularly exciting insect, but good fodder for birds. I could use one of those birds in the office right now, for the caterpillar has gone on walk-about and is now MIA. It’s days are numbered in this office – it will never escape (and I will probably never find it).