Monday, August 4, 2008

Communal Caterpillars

Hey, where’d everybody go?

I stand here waiting excitedly, like the kid who was thrilled to get an invitation to the coolest party ever, only to find it’s a joke.
There’s no one here but me!

The hundreds of Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars that have been feeding off these leaves have gone their separate ways.
In a week's time, from their tiny, almost hairless, black-headed beginning on the underside of a single leaf

they've eaten their way, higher and higher.
One leaf at a time.
Avoiding the veins in order to not be washed away by the milky flow.
Leaving the white skeleton behind.

Yesterday, a party of nearly 300, snuggled together in the space of just one leaf—now all have dispersed.
Their communal life over at the third instar.

They'll continue to feed on their own now--one by one, at other milkweeds.
But for now, it's just me.
This party's over.

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GreenishLady said...

Wow! Look at how they skelatised (sp?) those leaves! Amazing!

Anonymous said...

They certainly did do a number on that milkweed plant. I have never seen such numbers in a concentrated area!

Mary said...

You are too much, Nina. ;-)

dguzman said...


Ackworth Born said...

caterpillars are greedy beggers aren't they?

Texas Travelers said...

So sad, the party's over.
Great post and photos.
Thanks for sharing this.

Our "C" is Here.
Come visit,
Troy and Martha

ellen b said...

Ha! All I can add is "it's time to call it a day"

Kjerstis Hjørne said...

Awesome, but they are not exactly pretty..

Crayons said...

Oy vey. I mean GROSS! Ever since I lived through three weeks of raining caterpillars on Long Island, I've not been fond of them. These photos are just amazing.

shutterhappyjenn said...

Wow... so plenty caterpillars! If I was there, I will check on them everyday until they become moths! Those are so great shots!

My C post is HERE. Please stop by if you have some time. It will be very much appreciated. Happy Wednesday!

kjpweb said...

:) Nicely documented "C" - well done!
Cheers, Klaus

leslie said...

What a great take for C words! Love your photos! Were there any butterflies around afterwards?

Patty said...

All I can say is EWWWW.
That is a lot of bugs.

Lynette said...

Wowsers, what a post!

Gary said...

Greedy little blighters aren't they?

Must've been some party for them though!

Great post.

Bodge's Bulletin

Denise said...

I have been worrying about a species called cabbage white butterfly attacking my hanging baskets but they seem to be OK...mind you I am out morning noon and night inspecting!

Bear Naked said...

So many caterpillars.
Beautiful photos.

Bear((( )))

Razor Family Farms said...

WOW! The party is indeed over. Goodness!