Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy New Year!

My creature of the year award for 2014 goes to --- 

The spun glass caterpillar, Isochaetes beutenmuelleri, of Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky. I photographed the fabulous pale green larva, covered with transparent glassy spikes, in September. The larva will grow up to become a relatively drab moth. Spun glass caterpillars are rare sightings and give caterpillar hunters something to brag about. (Smirking.)

I saw the caterpillar on the wooden walkway that leads to the River Styx, pictured here -- it's one of many cool local attractions at Mammoth Cave Park. Mammoth Cave is also the least crowded National Park I have ever visited.

The caterpillar looked like this when I first saw it. I'll bet it had fallen from a tree above. I would never have  noticed it if it had landed anywhere but on the contrasting wooden railing of the walkway. The caterpillar is tiny, only about 1/4 of an inch long. Congratulations spun glass caterpillar -- you are my 2014 creature of the Year! Yay!

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