Sunday, August 25, 2019

Io Moth

This week I am bragging about finding this Io moth caterpillar, Automeris io. This awesome caterpillar is about 2.5 inches long. It has a pretty pink-and-cream stripe down its side and is covered with bundles of branching spines. Click to enlarge.
I hear that the sting from these spines is painful, so if you are lucky enough to find one of these beauties, don't touch it. The tips of spines that penetrate your skin can break off and release irritating venom. Ew.
The caterpillar was eating leaves of a buttonbush shrub, Caphalanthus occidentalis, also called button-willow or honey-bells. The buttonbush is native to eastern and southern North America. Io moths are not picky about what they eat, though, and can be found on a variety of other host plants.
The name Io is from a Greek myth in which Io, a priestess of Zeus' wife, Hera, got in trouble when Zeus became romantically interested in her. After many adventures, which included being turned into a white cow to hide her from Hera, Io bore children with Zeus who were ancestors to all kinds of famous people including Hercules and Perseus.

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