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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Caterpillar Envy

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who lives nearby posted a picture on Facebook of a caterpillar like the one above. What a cool caterpillar! Was I ever jealous! Then a few days later this one showed up at my place. So, yay! I got my own! It's the caterpillar of the white-marked tussock moth, Orgyia leucostigma. It has four humps of bristles on its back, two flashy "horns" on its (red) head end, and a tufted "tail." Click to enlarge. 
Male white-marked tussock moth caterpillars eventually become grey moths with a white spot on each forewing. No surprises there. But females are wingless and flightless. The female has a swollen abdomen and stays near her empty cocoon to mate when a flying male arrives. She lays her eggs nearby. I'm combing the plants where I found this caterpillar in search of such a female. If I find one, you'll see it here. 

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