Journal for November 30, 2005

This was a wet, indoors week, so I didn’t take many photos. One day was snowy, and everything was cold and frozen. The next day we had a thunderstorm, the temperature went up to 50 degrees, and all the snow washed away.
We do a morning walk up our driveway and along the road for about half a mile to the next farm. On the snowy day I didn’t see any insects on the road – I figured that they were finally settled in for the winter. But the next day, in the rain, we saw at least a dozen caterpillars, numerous earthworms, and a few beetles – all soaking wet and working their way across the road.

Most of the caterpillars were Virginia Ctenucha moth caterpillars, and a few were what I think are some kind of Tiger Moth. I collected a few of each to look at more carefully, and to see what they turn into next spring. They’re currently in cages on our screen porch, with some dirt to dig in, and dead leaves and wood chips to hide under. I think they will all spend the winter as caterpillars and pupate next spring.

Here’s one of the Ctenucha moth caterpillars.

This is an adult Ctenucha Moth – taken last June in one of our prairies.

They are fairly common day-flying moths in the summer in this part of Wisconsin.

These are the Tiger Moth caterpillars.

When I took them inside they got very active. They walked all around on the kitchen counter, stretching up the fronts of their bodies as if they wanted to get a better look at where they were. They were pretty wet and bedraggled.

I think they may be Yellow Bear Caterpillars, Spilosoma sp. Hopefully I’ll find out for sure in the spring.