08 May 2012

A caterpillar wearing camouflage - updated

The caterpillar of the Wavy Emerald Moth (Synchlora aerata), family Geometridae, a species found throughout much of North America. The larvae feed on many plants in the family Asteraceae (like Liatris spp. and Rudbeckia spp.) as well as a variety of other flowering plants.
They are known to pluck the petals from the flowers of their host plants and affix them to their backs using silk. Once the petals begin to wilt and discolor, the caterpillar discards the old petals and picks new petals, which camouflage the animal.
The top photo shows the cat next to a host plant blossom. This photo shows one in the classic "looped" position on a stem:

We have lots of asters, Liatris, and Rudbeckia in our garden and our nearby hiking areas.  I'm going to look for one of the fascinating critters next summer.  And the adult moth, btw, is gorgeous.

Found at Fauna, via A London Salmagundi.  Photo credit Hopefoote.

Addendum: Reposted from January to add these photos found at Why Evolution is True, showing the same species of caterpillar decorating/camouflaging itself with different flower components:

There's an even more impressive example at the link, as well as a subtle connection to Lady Chatterley's Lover.


  1. just plain marvellous.

  2. I know there are crabs that use seaweed to camouflage themselves. Isn't there a seahorse that does the same thing?

  3. The most awesome piece of camouflage I've seen in a while.

  4. God is so creative! I love seeing how He works all these cool things out! :)

  5. This might be of interest. Translucent caterpillar in Mexico. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/10258111

    At first I thought it was a cluster of eggs... Super cool if it's real.

  6. Your blog uses the same template mine does. If you'd like to use the same widget I've tinkered into existence at the top right of my blog, I'll share the code with you and tell you where to put it. I'd be curious to see how many likes and tweets your posts are getting.

    1. Right now I'm using the one Blogger supplies. If you look at the bottom of this post next to the g+1, you'll see a +4. The most popular one this week has been the video of the ocean creature, with +11. The highest this year was the taste guide to malt whiskies at +16.

      For the blog as a whole, which I guess is what your widget does, I have no idea re TYWKIWDBI. It's been a very gradual process over the years of people recommending it to friends or discovering it by serendipity via Google, yielding traffic of about 5-10,000 per day.

      The tweets I don't monitor or have an interest in, but thanks for thinking of me.

      p.s. - there's not much poetry here. If you enter "poem" in the search box, you'll only get about 30 hits out of nearly 10,000 posts.


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