Friday, December 13, 2013

A Fancy Worm

Before I "discovered" Wildwood Park with my camera, I took lots of pictures of critters that I found in my yard as I tended my flowers. One day in July of 2008, I found an interesting "worm" that was well-camouflaged on a yellow yarrow (Archillea millefoliurm) flower. I snapped several pictures and later began to try to find out the worm's species. I didn't know very much about the Internet so I asked several people what it was. No one could give me its name.

Two years later, someone suggested that I email an image of the yellow "worm" to Bug Guide, a website sponsored by Iowa State University. I did that in May of 2010 and waited until December of that year to receive an identification - it was a Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata) caterpillar, not a worm! I also read in the Guide that "the caterpillar adorns its body with plant fragments, usually flowers petals, to camouflage it as it feeds." No wonder it had such a great camo outfit - it could use small petals of its favorite food! There were illustrations showing brown, lavender, and orange ones. I had also gotten a photo of my critter on a yarrow leaf.

I had to wait two more years - another lesson in patience - before I saw a Wavy-lined Emerald moth. In December of 2012, I found one resting on the restroom wall in Wildwood (Bug Guide provided the identification.). 

Bug Guide has become one of my favorite and most useful websites. Experts from all over the United States and Canada identify and provide other interesting information about bugs, spider, butterflies, and moths. The tiny yellow caterpillar was identified by John and Jane Balaban who live in Skokie, Illinois. During the past three years, they have identified many more critters for me. Scroll down to the previous article to learn about this interesting couple.


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