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Old 11-23-2012, 11:36 PM   #1
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A late season caterpillar on gaillardia (which is also still blooming...) He doesn't look quite like a tobacco bud worm, though he is acting one, eating the center of the flower.

fun with larva-caterpillar-closeup-gaillardia-nov-21.jpg

And this one, taken a few weeks earlier and in a different part of the yard, is clearly parasitized. You can see both eggs and larva on the one shot. Any comments, suunto, on what kind of wasp or fly does this kind of parasitism? It is amazing with the number of wasps and tachinid flies I find in my yard that any of my caterpillars survive to adulthood!

fun with larva-caterpilar-stripey-parasites-3.jpg fun with larva-caterpillar-striped-parasites-1.jpg

Lastly, any ideas what this is? Clearly an insect has made a silken structure on a maple leaf, but I don't want to disturb it to see if it is a cocoon vs an egg case. I haven't seen anything like it before, but this one was on a maple leaf at eye level; for all I know there could be thousands higher up in my trees.
fun with larva-cocoon-egg-case-maple-leaf-nov-web.jpg
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:54 AM   #2
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A late season caterpillar on gaillardia (which is also still blooming...) He doesn't look quite like a tobacco bud worm, though he is acting one, eating the center of the flower.Attachment 34068
This caterpillar appears to be in the family Geometridae (loopers, inchworms, etc.)

And this one, taken a few weeks earlier and in a different part of the yard, is clearly parasitized. You can see both eggs and larva on the one shot. Any comments, suunto, on what kind of wasp or fly does this kind of parasitism? It is amazing with the number of wasps and tachinid flies I find in my yard that any of my caterpillars survive to adulthood!
Attachment 34069 Attachment 34070

These are larvae of chalcid wasps in the family Eulophidae - see parasitized caterpillar - Euplectrus - BugGuide.Net for another example.

Lastly, any ideas what this is? Clearly an insect has made a silken structure on a maple leaf, but I don't want to disturb it to see if it is a cocoon vs an egg case. I haven't seen anything like it before, but this one was on a maple leaf at eye level; for all I know there could be thousands higher up in my trees.Attachment 34071
I cannot be certain, but it looks to me more like a spider egg case than a cocoon.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:04 AM   #3
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Thanks, suunto. I thought it might be an egg case, which is why I did not put it in with my hibernating cocoons for the winter. It is pretty large - you can judge size from the leaf, so it was likely a large spider. My large orb weavers, who I think are Neoscura crucifera, would be my guess from the size and location, but I have many, many kinds of large spiders in my woods!
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Old 11-24-2012, 12:31 PM   #4
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Ohhhhhhhh!!!! Love that caterpillar "packin" a load!!!
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:04 PM   #5
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More caterpillars. I think they are all the same species, from their appearance, though I have found them on my climbing asters, climbing on my chestnut oak bark, and on the gaillardia. I seem to have a plethora of them. Any way to get beyond just a geometer?

And that odd circular critter next to the caterpillar on the bark walked a few steps then dropped to the ground and disappeared when I tried to catch it to id. Odd things are out and about in my yard in this unseasonably warm weather...
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fun with larva-caterpillars-gaillardia-2-dec.jpg   fun with larva-caterpillar-oak-bark-2-dec.jpg   fun with larva-caterpillar-odd-insect-oak-bark-dec.jpg   fun with larva-caterpillar-aster-1-dec.jpg   fun with larva-caterpillar-oakbark-3-showing-measuring-dec-tiny-less-than-one-inch-long.jpg  

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Old 12-05-2012, 01:17 PM   #6
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Any way to get beyond just a geometer?

And that odd circular critter next to the caterpillar on the bark walked a few steps then dropped to the ground and disappeared when I tried to catch it to id. Odd things are out and about in my yard in this unseasonably warm weather...
There simply are too many species of geometers with a similar pattern (see Common Pug Eupithecia miserulata_0774 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! for an example) for me to be confident of a specific identification.
If the 'odd critter' appreared to hop, it might have been a treehopper in trhe family Membracidae...
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:32 PM   #7
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The odd critter did hop - far and fast, so I couldn't catch it and get a better photo, so a tree hopper makes sense.

I would believe the Common pug - the photo you posted is even on the same flower as mine, though I am sure it could be other spp as well. In favor of this identification is that fact that this species eats a wide variety of food sources including asters, and oak, a range not common with many. It also is a caterpillar in the fall. I have also seen these moths around, though they look a lot like other stripey bark colored moths.

Mine may not even all be the same - I am making an assumption that they are simply because I am seeing many of them at the same stage right now, although in many different parts of my yard.
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