This has been a good year for butterflies and moths in Maine. I’ve seen over two dozen monarch butterflies or caterpillars so far. Much better than a few years ago when there was a dismal year with no sightings!
The other day I found three monarch caterpillars on one well-eaten milkweed plant. I moved two to a different area that wasn’t being fed on at all. The little guy above is one of the relocated insects. It is amazing how fast caterpillars grow! This one has doubled its size in three days! I hope to catch one in the chrysalis stage. I think monarchs have such beautiful chrysalises with the gold colored detailing.
As I was searching for monarchs, I happened upon this beautiful caterpillar. It is the brown hooded owlet moth. With such a gorgeous immature stage, one would expect the adult to be stunning. However, the adult is a fairly drab brown moth with a hump over its head, hence the “hooded” part of the name. Looks like the species puts all the effort into the caterpillar.
This species is also frequently preyed upon by parasitic flies that lay eggs on the caterpillars. The developing fly larvae consume the caterpillar. I hope this caterpillar escapes that fate! It was happily chomping a golden rod, good job little bug! We have way too much goldenrod on the farm.