Saturday, October 2, 2021

Best Caterpillar Ever

October comes with thoughts of pumpkin spice lattes, cool nights, colored leaves, and plans for Halloween. On my list, also, is the hunt for stinging rose caterpillars. I trust that one look at the specimen above will explain why. Brightly colored, striped and spiked, it is a beautiful thing. Click to enlarge and admire. 

Stinging rose caterpillars come in shades from yellow through orange to brighter red. You can see stripes on the top and sides of this yellow one. Call me crazy, but they always make me think of fruit-flavored hard candies in all your favorite flavors.

These east coast caterpillars feed on rose foliage, which explains part of their common name -- though I have only ever found them on bayberry in sand dunes near the ocean. They also feed on dogwood, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, poplar, and oak according to the Arthropod Museum of the University of Arkansas.
You should not touch a stinging rose caterpillar because its spines contain toxins and can break off and irritate human skin, which explains the rest of its common name.   
 The hard-to-find stinging rose caterpillar. It is my favorite among all the caterpillars.   Is it not awesome?

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