a lovely green thing

Do you ever see something that you really can’t wait to show to your friends? This afternoon, I found something like that and decided to post the photos tonight — and besides, part two of Monday’s hike was going to be my post for tomorrow.

So, what did I find today?

A lovely little caterpillar munching away on Willow (Salix) leaves alongside the drainage creek that flows through the middle of the farm. It was actually quite tiny, but it caught my attention when I stopped to examine the Willows after noticing that some leaves had been stripped away from the branches — always a good indication of caterpillar activity.

This caterpillar is the larva of the White Admiral Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) — there’s a photo of the butterfly below (click on all photos to see larger views).

Some texts describe the White Admiral larva as looking like a bird dropping, but that seems rather unkind and inaccurate. I thought it was a gorgeous little creature. I showed it to a good friend who described it as ~ Jade with feather tuft feet. Feather tuft dino feet… wearing a Kabuki headdress. I think he got that just right.

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4 Responses to “a lovely green thing”

  1. Wayne Says:

    Oh my, how cute a bird dropping could look we never knew until now! His little horns are just precious! (by the way I found a pollinating beetle today, just 3mm long, that has a rhinoceros horn). I haven’t seen any white admirals – just the red-spotted purple variant.

    I also saw a zebra swallowtail but by the time I got out with the camera he was gone.

  2. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – I guess the white admirals are to the north, and the red-spotted purple variant is to the south. There are some variations up here too — one that some people call a Purple-banded White Admiral. I’ve photographed those a couple of times about 50 miles south of here. As for your rhinoceros horn beetle — was it a bit too small to photograph? There are some very fascinating insects that are just a bit too small for my bigger camera. I can sometimes get a good shot with the CP4500 though.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    Well, it does look a little bit like bird droppings. I clean the bird platform feeder, and after the band-tailed pigeons have been there, it is covered in the jade green and pale colors much like this caterpillar. But these caterpillars do have that kabuki headdress and feather-tufted dino feet. What a beautiful butterfly emerges from this rather subtle creature.

  4. burning silo Says:

    RA – Actually, I was back looking at the same caterpillar today, and when he’s curled up sleeping, I guess it’s true that he does look like bird droppings. Probably an excellent form of camouflage. However, when he’s awake and eating leaves, he’s really quite an exquisite little fellow. I find that when I’m watching these tiny caterpillars, they seem so much larger than they look — I guess it’s just the amount of attention that I’m giving them from such close range.