Posts Tagged ‘Cattail Caterpillar’

Does Halloween have an official insect mascot? Maybe we need an election, since it seems to be season for campaigning.

When I first saw this photo of a Cattail caterpillar (Simyra insularis) that I took a week ago, I was struck by the fact that its black and orange colors seemed perfectly appropriate for Halloween. (In a previous posting about this species, it was the pattern of the caterpillar that was its most notable feature.)

Does anyone else have a viable candidate? If so, post your photos and let’s make this a race!

Vote for me to be the official insect mascot for Halloween

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of my friends of Facebook think that I make up the name of some of the insects whose pictures I post. After all, can there really be an insect called the Handsome Meadow Katydid? Normally, the official names are so strange that there is no need to invent new ones.

Today, however, I decided to  make up a name for a caterpillar that my friend Cindy Dyer helped me identify earlier in the summer, when I did a posting entitled Patterned Caterpillar. The caterpillar’s real name is a Cattail caterpillar (Simyra insularis) and I photographed it this weekend at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, VA.

This caterpillar’s black-and-white patterns are such a perfect match for those ubiquitous markings found on all products that I want to rename it as the Barcode caterpillar.  What would register if you scanned this caterpillar at the checkout counter at a store?

Cattail caterpillar (Simyra insularis)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The bright green leaves of the plants in the marsh have faded and most of the colors are more subdued than in early summer. Against that muted backdrop, I was surprised to come across a brightly colored caterpillar this past weekend. It looks a bit like the Cattail Caterpillar (Simyra insularis) that I photographed and described earlier this year, although the spiky red tufts are more extreme on this caterpillar. I think I can detect the prominent black and white pattern that was so visible in the image that I posted previously.

This is the first year that I have paid close attention to the cyclical changes in plants, animals, birds, and insects. I am excited to see what new species will come into my field of vision as we move through the fall.

UPDATE: I did a little more research and now think that this caterpillar is actually a Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita).

Colorful caterpillar in late September

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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