Sunday, August 25, 2013

Milkweed Tusock Caterpillar

As I mentioned in my previous post I had spent a lot of time this summer looking for a piedbald deer; I also have been looking for monarch butterflies or their caterpillars, of which I have not seen one.  I have been spending a lot of time in a milkweed patch.  Milkweed is the only plant that a monarch butterfly caterpillar will feed on , so that is where monarch butterflies lay their eggs.  Last summer I collected six caterpillars from milkweed plants and brought them home and raised them until they turned into butterflies and then we released them.
Yesterday we had quite an exciting moment when we found three caterpillars on a milkweed plant that we initially thought that they might be monarch caterpillars!  but we were wrong.:-(  The colour pattern seemed almost right, but the texture and make up of the creatures was wrong.  
 It seemed to be made of segments or even scraps of yarn, and it seemed composed of tufts of hair. I have seen several tufted caterpillars before  which belonged to the tussock family of caterpillars so that gave me a clue as to its identity. I have a very helpful caterpillar guide book and was able to learn that the caterpillars we found and brought home were 
 Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars. I had planned to feed the creatures every day until they went through the pupa stage and then turned into moths or butterflies.  
I  have learned that the milkweed tussock will overwinter in their pupa stage, so I don't think I will invest the time and I will return the caterpillars to the milkweed patch today where I had found them and continue my search for evidence of Monarchs having been there,  We thought we might have seen a couple of monarchs one day earlier this week but we did not get a good view of them and they could have been Viceroys which look very similar to Monarchs.  That sighting is enough encouragement for me to continue my quest in the milkweed patch.  Milkweed is host to a variety of bugs and insects and flying or jumping things, such as grasshoppers things so I never know what I will find there! Have a good Sunday everyone. Much of my day will be spent in the milkweed patch Is'nt nature fascinating!


eileeninmd said...

The milkweed is an awesome plant. I wish I had some growing in my yard. Cool shots of the caterpillar. Happy Sunday!

ZielonaMila said...

Great post, nature is amazing:) Greetings