A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Big Cat Attack!!

Okay so I didn’t get attacked by a large feline.  In the naturalist community ‘cats’ is a an affectionate name for the myriad of caterpillars that you encounter and care for.  I was training for an inline marathon (that’s rollerblades to most people) and on a 14 miler I spotted a large unidentified green blob doing ‘the worm’ across the trail.  Of course, I stopped and picked up the caterpillar and put it in my only zip pocket an then completed the remaining seven miles of my workout.  The caterpillar made it back in one piece although it must have had the ride of its life!

This is one of the largest caterpillars that I have ever encountered.  It was larger than the Cecropia moth caterpillars the I have raised at the nature center.  From my prior experience my gut instinct told me that it was some sort of Sphinx Moth.  These are fairly large moths that you might see in your garden during summer.  Some species are known at Hawk Moths or Humming Bird Moths.  Exactly which species this is I don’t know…

For a giant blob of an eating machine it sure is photgenic!

These large caterpillars have no prickly spines or bright colors.  They instead opt for mimicry of other animals.  These large ‘eyes’ line the flanks.

The hind end of the caterpillar has a single imposing eye with a pupil and all.  The evolutionary mechanisms behind mimicry like this is pretty hard to comprehend but nature works in mysterious ways.

Have you ever wondered what a Kiwi fruit would look like as a zombie?   Now you know.

Up next:  Up North


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