Sunday, March 30, 2008

Life Stirs in the Post Winter Detritus

I discovered this fuzzy little guy Saturday afternoon while clearing out a bunch of last year's growth in the front garden. This woolly bear caterpillar, aka 'Isabella Tiger Moth' or Pyrrharctia isabella, was just snoozing undercover until I disturbed his long winter's nap. At first he was all curled up until I fired up the camera and then he apparently figured he'd been 'outed' so to speak. So I was lucky enough to get three quick shots as he headed off to better protection ... I deliberately left a bunch of leaf cover there for him to finish his winter's nap, because it's hard for me to resist these fuzzy little caterpillars I remember fondly from my childhood, when I used to delight in letting them crawl over my hand.

According to the Wiki entry, they're pretty benign caterpillars, dining primarily on grass and weeds, so I said, hey! Send me a couple hundred of them in the front garden, and they'll help get rid of some of the pests we have to deal with every year! I'm just glad they apparently don't target ornamentals ... so the more the merrier I say. The moth they eventually metamorphose into isn't particularly spectacular, but now that I've seen one (see Wiki), I recognize that we always have a lot of them around in the summer months when they lay their eggs, which then hatch into these caterpillars in late summer. Apparently they spend the winter hiding out in the caterpillar form, and then proceed with the rest of their transformation in spring. So, as far as we're concerned, this little guy is given free rein to dine to his heart's content in the front garden until ready to go through the inevitable change ... And when we see the Tiger Moths in the garden later in the summer, I'm sure we'll wonder which one of them was the little guy I so rudely woke up in the spring!


FARfetched said...

These two posts sure do make things look like they're getting ready to "spring"... that tiger moth is shaped a lot like a moth we get on the butterfly bushes, but it has a square-ish orange spot on each wing & a hint of blue. I think I have a shot of them in a post from a year or two ago.

The butterfly bushes are starting to leaf out, BTW, so we should be seeing some flower action soon. Looks like the dogwoods will be late this year.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR! That's amazing that your Buddleias are leafing out already ... we haven't cut ours back yet and don't expect much from them until sometime in April or May. Some of our hardiest perennials are already up ... Prairie Mallow, White Yarrow, Sea Holly, Blue Fescue grass and even some Columbines and the Hellebores. But the main attraction is the the bulbs emerging all over out front. Looks like a bumper year for the Crocus, so expect to see more of them here very soon. No sign yet of the Siberian Squill, but they should be popping up soon, especially with the next few rainy days in the forecast. Sometime this week we plan on going out and broadcasting a bunch of seeds (CA poppies, poppies, larkspur, etc.)

This spring I really hope that with the weather cooperating, and an assist from the new cam on the way (the S700) I can really capture the pop of our early Spring garden. (Can you tell I'm getting impatient about the cam? I think it may even arrive on Monday, so you'll hear about it here first!)

Cheers to your corner of Planet Georgia from our little patch of quickly thawing Iowa. Now if we can only will a thaw for Olivia!

*Think Warm Thoughts For Ottawa!*

olivia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
olivia said...

Oops ... that was me above ... :)

Thanks for the 'warm' wshes ... heh.

Great caterpillar! Like FAR said, it's so wonderful to see spring springing

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