31 May 2010

Cucullia asteroides - the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet moth

This very striking caterpillar appeared on an aster plant in our front yard late last August.  I wanted to see what he would become, so I placed him in a jar with aster clippings, some mulch on the bottom, and a couple sticks in case he needed them for pupation.

He was a very messy eater, clipping leaves off and letting them fall to the ground; I've read or heard that some caterpillars employ this strategy so that partially-eaten leaves on the plant do not give away their presence.  I do have to say this guy was well camouflaged, because there were times when I had difficulty locating him in the jar.

In mid-September he disappeared.  Totally.  I knew he had burrowed into the mulch at the bottom to pupate, so I placed the jar in our unheated garage for the winter.  A couple weeks ago he reappeared, as the rather inconspicuous moth shown here.

As best I can tell, he's one of the hundreds of species of Cucullia moths - Cucullia asteroides, as best I can tell.  Not a colorful creature by human standards (or by lepidopteran standards), but I suspect that drab coloration serves the defenseless adult well for camo, just as the striking green stripes served the caterpillar.

3 comments:

  1. Not handsome?! Have you noticed the striking sad human face pattern on the top of its head and body?

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're quite right. I've changed "not handsome" to "not colorful" in the text.

    ReplyDelete
  3. hee hee You're right! That face actually looks a little like...is that a howler monkey? I agree. He is handsome!

    ReplyDelete

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