Caterpillar Hunting...

Someone's been in the False Nettle; you can tell by the small chew holes randomly placed throughout the plant.  Another sign is frass...or caterpillar poop.  I'm looking for butterflies, specifically red admirals or question marks, that use this as one of their host plants.  Once, only once I've found red admirals...despite the prolific amount of false nettle that abounds.

I generally look throughout the day, gently turning the leaves over, but best bets are in the morning hours.  Many caterpillars feed at night and are still up on the plant...before they seek shelter and a rest from a belly full of leaves.
Here I found maybe the smallest tussock moth caterpillar (I'm not aware of this being a host plant) and another strange, an very hungry green caterpillar.

       
Success!  I did locate two (maybe, probably) red admiral caterpillars!  Things are going...ok.  I was not successful in keeping clippings in water.  False nettle just goes limp in hours, so because I have tons, many just popping up in flower pots, I've potted up a small bit of it.  And I'll keep switching out as they continue to grow.
I also raised an eight spotted forester moth, somewhat, by accident.  I originally found him or her on it's host plant Virginia Creeper (that too, I have in abundance!)  I thought it would be a lot fun to raise it as the moth rivals some butterflies in beauty.  A couple days in, I lost the caterpillar!  I wasn't sure if I left the container open or tossed it out with old food; that's happened before.  Well, some of the mystery was solved when I found this fuzzy friend sitting in the window sill...and I suddenly felt less guilt for being a bad caterpillar mom!

Spread those wings friends,
Lisa



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