Climbing an Invisible Thread | Outdoors My Window


Hickory tussock moth caterpillar climbing a blade of grass, July 2010 (photograph from Wikimedia Commons)

17 July 2022

Have you ever seen small white caterpillars this month, suspended on invisible threads from the tree cover and swinging within the breeze? You may see just one however there are others close by dropping from the identical tree. These are hickory tussock moth caterpillars (Lophocampa caryae) touring from their natal leaves.

Right here’s what one seems to be like. Why is it climbing? Learn on.

Final month the caterpillars had been only a cluster of eggs, laid by their mom on the underside of the leaves they like: hickory, walnut, pecan or blue-beech. Their mother and father discovered one another by uncommon means.

Hickory tussock moth grownup (photograph from Wikimedia Commons)

Arctiids have a thorax that comes geared up with a sound-producing organ. The moths “vocalize” to draw mates and to defend towards predators, emitting ultrasonic clicks [>20,000 Hz] that publicize their identification. As a result of an animal that is ready to make sound in all probability wants to have the ability to hear it too, Arctiids have “ears,” additionally situated on their thorax.

— paraphrased from The Bug Woman’s Hickory Tussock Moth account

The mother and father die after reproducing however the younger reside on. Once they hatch the caterpillars are poisonous in order that they safely feed in a crowd, consuming leaf tissue between leaf veins and skeletonizing leaves.

Hickory tussock moth caterpillars consuming leaves (photograph by PA DCNR at bugwood)

After they’ve eaten every part in sight they’ve to maneuver on in order that they spin out an invisible thread and swing to a different department or tree. The caterpillar in my video had missed the opposite vegetation and was hanging over a large gravel highway. Maybe he may see nothing inexperienced beneath so determined to climb the thread again as much as the timber.

Learn extra about their life cycle in Bug Woman’s article Hickory Tussock Moth.

p.s. Do you know that Nationwide Moth Week is just 6 days away? 23-31 July 2022.

Assist map moth distribution and life historical past. Attend or begin a Nationwide Moth Night time occasion (referred to as “mothing”) to contribute scientific information about moths.  Be part of buddies and neighbors to examine porch lights once in a while or arrange a lightweight and a white sheet to see what’s in your individual yard.


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