Monday, August 25, 2014

caterpillar season

Hungry caterpillars everywhere on my sunflower! I've been trimming more and more spent flowers from the 7 ft. tall sunflower in the back yard and thinking how life is slowing down after two weeks of temperatures hovering near 100 degrees. And then I spotted the caterpillars. Not just one or two, but dozens of them, voraciously devouring the leaves on the sunflower plant. Usually when I see a lot of caterpillars they are the "bad" kind, but these particular creepycrawlies will turn into a pretty orange and black butterfly called the Border Patch Butterfly (Chlosyne lacinia). It's also called the Sunflower Patch because one of its favorite host plants is the sunflower. I've seen a few of these butterflies, but they have been too fast for me to catch with my camera.

You can see the ragged edge where this caterpillar has been chomping away at a leaf.

This one chews from the underside of the leaf. You can see from these few photos there is quite a lot of variation in the colors of these caterpillars.  Soon these little guys will attach themselves to the undersides of the sunflower leaves and form themselves into chrysalises, if they don't get eaten by the cardinal who seems to have found them. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to see butterflies emerge in a few weeks.

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