Fascinatingly Creepy!

I am increasingly fascinated with little creatures, and this happened a few years ago when I started with flower macro photography. I often found bugs on the flowers and this lead me to ‘bug hunting’. I am fortunate to have a generous garden that produces an array of little creatures.

A week ago I discovered these Ermine Caterpillars, which will eventually produce the Ermine moth. At first there was just an army of caterpillars in different stages of growth.

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This is pretty fascinating, but creepy. I got as close as I could to photograph them, bearing in mind that some might fall on me from the top of the tree, so I kept a healthy distance.

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Here the caterpillars are in the process of spinning silk. A number of thick strands are set up and smaller stands are connected to those, forming a web. They are really hard workers and spin fast. This caterpillar is also known as the tent caterpillar. There are a number of species. The tents they create can be extremely large, covering wide areas.

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Whey do they do this? There is protection in numbers, so they protect themselves from predators and within the safety of the ‘tent’, they can happily chomp away until the very last leaf.

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This is my favorite photograph. Kind of like a caterpillar tightrope!

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After three days, the caterpillars started to drop to the ground. Not surprisingly, they stripped the tree. Obviously a large number of them will pupate in areas on or around the tree, and an adult white/yellowish black spotted moth will appear in a month or two. I think the whole process of egg to caterpillar, to butterfly/moth is one of the most beautiful in nature.

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As a nature lover I see no point in destroying the caterpillars with insecticides. They form part of the cycle of life and poison has a way of killing everything that comes in contact with it, including birds and smaller wildlife. The tree will recover, and in spring will bloom again – makes me think of forest fires; they are devastating, but new growth is lusher than ever.

Further interest

©Copyright. Photography Caroline Street.

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