Our old friend the Banded Wooly Bear caterpillar, bearishly larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth, Pyrrharctia isabella. This was found behind a large piece of bark, which was put back. Have you heard the one about judging winter’s length/severity by the amount of black and/or orange on the animal? Turns out that the colors are just a factor of age: the orange expands and the black contracts during each successive molt.The caterpillar is overwintering in a state of dormancy. They can actually freeze solid and thaw out without ill-effects. An Arctic Wolly Bear (I’m not sure it’s the same species) has such a short period of summer that it can stay in the caterpillar stage for a dozen years, growing a bit each summer before finally cocooning and reforming as an adult, when it lives for about a day.
I would not recommend living in a state of dormancy right now. Things to do instead.
The winter woods are quiet and relatively monotone in color. But look closer. (And listen!)
We were looking at tree buds. This big cocoon with remnants of leaf-covering was just hanging there. One of the giant moths of the family Saturniidae made this, I think. Will it make it? Has it already be taken over by parasitic wasps? Overhead, a trio of Red-tailed Hawks explored their own futures.
Ah, the future. There is a subset of Americans who seem pretty immune to reality. Perhaps it is a grounding in the fiction of religion, because if they believe that, they may well believe anything. Or perhaps it is the authoritarian personality that wants to be led. Or maybe it’s the willful ignorance of the self-satisfied. All these could be in play. Don’t forget the power of conspiracy thinking, a strange urge to make everything seem rational, orderly, and controlled by somebody. And the windowless rooms of Fox and Facebook…
It’s really up to them in too many ways. They have to be convinced that lies, more lies, and damned lies are antithetical to democracy and civilization, not to mention their own damn-fool asses.
There’s your beautiful world, NW edition. Here’s Masha Gessen, an old hand at autocracy, on surviving Trumpism, very necessary reading now.
This is that lone Monarch caterpillar I saw a few weeks ago. I saw it again the next day, along with this little green pellet. Some quick research revealed that it was exactly what you’d think it was.
Something of what goes in must, after all, come out.
I have not seen a Monarch caterpillar in New York City since 2010. Now, I haven’t been actively surveying for them, but whenever I see milkweed, I do look closer. Six years is way, way too long a period to go without. As you probably know, Monarch have taken a severe beating from habitat destruction and climate change. This year is forecast to be another bad year for them. For the adult, butterfly, stage, I rarely see more than one or two a day in season.So even seeing one is heartening. And yesterday I saw precisely one, munching steadily away.(These were my phone pictures; I have a few more on my camera which I’ll post in a couple of days.)Internet comrade Erin out on the other end of this long island has been raising a herd of Monarchs this summer, documenting their stages from egg to chrysalis and beyond. Check out her IG for pictures still and moving.
Published October 15, 2014
Tags: caterpillars, Hudson, insects
What is Autumn without a Wooly Bear crossing your path?