Sunday, July 23, 2017

Camouflaged Looper

The Camouflaged Looper, Synchlora aerata takes the camouflage strategy to a higher level by attaching small pieces of whatever flower it finds itself feeding on.  They eat quite a variety of flowers, but are most commonly found on flowers in the composite family; David Wagner in his excellent book "Caterpillars of Eastern North American" lists ageratum, black-eyed susan, boneset, daisy, goldenrod, ragweed, and yarrow from the composite family, plus a good variety of other plants.

Camouflaged Loopers are also known as Wavy-lined Emeralds for the light green moths they eventually develop into.  They belong to the inchworm family, the Geometridae.  This family never ceases to amaze and surprise me.  It's members contain such a variety of camouflages, feeding strategies and are some of the first and last moths active in Minnesota.  I think most people would recognize an "inchworm", but don't realize how much more there is to them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Little Black Toads

Toadlets of American Toads have been everywhere at Westwood Hills Nature Center.  They are about a centimeter in length and somewhere in between dark grey and black in color.  They must have just completed metamorphosis and are now on the move, dispersing through the woods.  In a few weeks they'll be a lot harder to find, settled somewhere shaded and full of invertebrates for them to eat, or possibly eaten themselves. 

I'm still disappointed that American Toads were moved from the genus Bufo and into the genus Anaxyrus.  I'm not sure what the specific reasoning was for the change, and I doubt I'd have any qualms about it; my disappointment is purely onomatopoeic.  Bufo sounds just so quintessentially toadish.  There are still toad species in the world in the genus Bufo, but not the American Toad.  Sad

Saturday, July 15, 2017

An Illustrated Life List: Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper, Actitus macularius under the Broadway Avenue bridge which crosses the Mississippi River between north and northeast Minneapolis.