Thursday, September 22, 2011


As many of you know, we are currently in the process of building a permanent residence in northwest Indiana. Bruce is overseeing the project so we have been spending quite a bit of time on our property this summer. One of my favorite things to do is wander about our acreage in search of beautiful nature/wildlife. I most always tote my camera along, just in case I find something of interest. Below are photographs of a few caterpillars I have been observing and the changes they have been going through.

I found this very young Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar snacking on the leaves of a sassafras tree. The markings and coloration on the caterpillar resembles bird droppings, which helps protect it from hungry predators. I found three of these caterpillars on the same sassafras tree. This one was the largest, the other two were quite small, no bigger than a grain of rice

Here is the same caterpillar two days later. The eyespots have developed and the coloring on the caterpillar has taken on a greenish tinge. Take note of the mat of silk that the caterpillar has spun atop the leaf. I observed all the caterpillars move from their silk resting spots to feed on other leaves. When finished eating, they returned to their silk pads

I checked back a week later to find a plump, bright green caterpillar with light blue spots

Meanwhile, the smallest caterpillar of the three is developing quite nicely

A day later, the largest caterpillar has relocated to a new leaf and found a companion. They nestled side by side for 24 hours, then the smaller of the two moved on

Appearances can be deceiving. The eyespots are false and what looks like a tongue, is the head of the caterpillar.

To my delight, I found three more Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars on another nearby sassafras tree ~ This one seems to have fared well through the heavy rain storm

Back to the largest caterpillar ~  I woke up in the morning to find that its color had changed from bright green to olive-brown with numerous speckles.  The next day it was gone ... my guess is that it moved on to pupate elsewhere

Eventually, the ever-changing caterpillars above will turn into a beauty such as this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

While walking through an area with an abundance of wildflowers, I noticed this Common Buckeye Caterpillar on the side of a Queen Anne's Lace flower

Twenty minutes later I found it attached to the unopened flower head and arching upward

I returned an hour and a half later to find it curled up in a "J"position preparing to pupate

 I checked back the next day, and to my surprise, found that it had turned into a pupa overnight. I was amazed at how fast this happened

I have not noticed any changes over the last several days, though the Queen Anne's Lace stem is slowly wilting

I have my fingers crossed that I will be fortunate to watch it emerge from its chrysalis, dry its wings and flutter across fields of yellow and purple wildflowers ~ Common Buckeye Butterfly

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Countryside Wonders

This post features many wondrous summer sights seen on our country property

~ Identification corrections always welcome ~

A stunning Common Buckeye Butterfly alights on a blade of grass

A delightfully fuzzy Hickory Tussock Caterpillar makes a meal of a plant leaf

Filtered sunlight enhances the striking wings of a Viceroy Butterfly

A colorful Black-and-yellow Argiope wraps its unfortunate prey ~ I was one step away from walking through the web before I spotted this busy, large spider (female ~ 3/4 - 1 1/8")

I visited the same spider four days later to find it feasting of web captured insects

This Common Clearwing Hummingbird Moth surprised me by landing on a locust leaf directly in front of where I was standing ~ I had never seen one stationary prior to this occurrence

A Beautiful Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly explores a fragrant milkweed plant

I found this large, fuzzy, yellow American Dagger Caterpillar dining on lush green ground cover ~ I observed it most often on the underside of the leaves

This is the same American Dagger Moth Caterpillar viewed from a different angle ~ Surprisingly, it stayed in the same general area feeding for at least six days

 Bristly Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars collectively swallow up the leaves of a Common Milkweed plant

A delicate, tiny Gray Hairstreak Butterfly perches atop a Common Milkweed bud

This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar has developed what appears to be large eyes, though they are not  ~ The purpose of these distinctive eyespots is to resemble the look of a larger creature or snake, thus scare away predators

This warty toad was larger than my fist ~ It was seen hopping about our building site ~ I believe this is an American Toad