Hungry Caterpillars

My yard is filled with many little caterpillar faces peeking out from under milkweed leaves. They munch with such concentration that they do not seem to notice me peering at them. It’s as if they know the milkweed supply is dwindling and they’d better eat fast.

Monarch caterpillar Danaus plexippus
Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillar Spilosoma virginica

I originally thought the large hairy brown caterpillar above and the smaller yellow two below were different but it turns out Yellow Woolybear caterpillars (Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillars) can start out cream colored, then turn yellow, then in their last instars turn brown.

Their many lengths of setae reminds me of a hairdresser I once went to who couldn’t see very well. When I got home, I had many random long hairs that she didn’t cut. I think the hairstyle is perfect on these guys though, especially the way it lights up in the sun.

Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillar Spilosoma virginica
Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillar Spilosoma virginica

It’s pretty amazing how such little sticky feet can suspend caterpillars upside down while they chomp away at a leaf.

Monarch caterpillar Danaus plexippus
Two Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars Euchaetes eagle with a small Monarch caterpillar Danaus plexippus

This armyworm hangs out on top of the leaves. I think his snake-like pattern makes him bolder than the other caterpillars. I’m not sure if he has actually been eating the milkweed.

Yellowstriped Armyworm Spodoptera ornithogalli

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