Brookside Wings of Fancy Caterpillars – August 2018

The caterpillars at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit are maturing….getting ready for cooler temperatures. On the walk up the ticket taker table, the last of the milkweed tussock moth caterpillars are finishing their leaves and pupating. A large number had to be moved to milkweed plants further from the caterpillar house so that the Monarch caterpillars would be on view to the visitors waiting to enter the caterpillar house of the exhibit.

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The caterpillar house in August featured a white case (for the saddleback caterpillars) and then places for 3 pots (starring cecropia moth and monarch butterfly caterpillars).

The saddleback caterpillars grew bigger in August. I talked to at least two people that has been stung by them in their gardens!

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The cecropia moth caterpillars made cocoons one my one over the course of the month. Yesterday there was only one caterpillar left on the black cherry – and it had been the runt of the caterpillars from the beginning; it’s catching up now.

There is a spicebush tree in a pot next to the black cherry where the caterpillars have moved to make their cocoons.

The monarch caterpillars have been the most fun to watch. I was in the caterpillar house once just after a caterpillar shed its skin.

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They alternate between resting and eating….mostly eating.

When they are big enough to pupate, they try to leave the host plant. One started the walk-about when I was volunteering in the caterpillar house (round and round the pot looking for a way off) and we moved it to a portable mesh cube where it made its J and then chrysalis.

Outside there were many Monarch chrysalises on the plants and the structure of the caterpillar house. They always look like jade pendants to me.

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Family BioBlitz at The Howard County Conservancy

The Howard County Conservancy hosted the Maryland Diversity Project last Saturday and I volunteered to help with the public part of the program that had families spending the morning photographing and recording the plants and animals at Mt. Pleasant.

Caterpillars seemed to dominate our finds: young milkweed tussock moth caterpillars as well as large Monarch, black swallowtail and orange striped oakworm moth caterpillars. There were also autumn tent worms.

We also saw a millipede, insects mating, a spider guarding a large egg sack…and a carpenter bee (male) that was lazing on a Joe Pye weed.

Near the end, I saw the birds nest fungus growing on mulch near the nature center. I was pleased that our group – which included a young child – all had fun and enjoyed our finds!

The slide show is in hike order….enjoy!