U is for…Uh-oh!

Yes, we missed U day yesterday. We’ll chalk it up to three days of rain! No squirrel wants to be out in that! Not mentioning the procrastination that went on the day before because U is an exceptionally hard letter to find in nature.

So in the interest of saving time, we’ll repeat a past Blogging From A to Z Challenge post, one you humans might have missed in nature:

Underwing Moth!

This moth sits calmly on tree bark, blending in with its upper wings of gray–up until it feels threatened! Then it flashes those underwings of bright orange…enough to scare even the hardiest squirrel–*cough* Hickory *cough*–off a branch.

Go looking for them if you are bored!

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Ailanthus Webworm Moth

Hickory and I were lounging on a deck when we spotted a bright bug crawling over the nearby flowers. We thought it was a beetle, but when Hickory nosed it, it flew off, more like a wasp.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth

It wasn’t hard to find–it’s an Ailanthus Webworm Moth. Ms. Flora immediately recognized the first part of the name: “That’s the genus of the Tree of Heaven,” she chittered at us.

Well that was interesting and when I looked into it, it’s not a coincidence; scientists did rename the moth because it likes to eat the leaves of the Ailanthus altissimo, which isn’t from North America, and neither is the moth from our area of the mid-Atlantic. They come from warmer climates to the south and really only are seen here in the summertime, when they can feast on the Tree of Heaven leaves. The webworm part of it’s name is because the larvae bind themselves a little home with webbing between leaves, then proceed to eat all they can within it.

The moth landed again, and Hickory flicked his tail in its direction. “Heh, you certainly aren’t resting up to store your winter’s food supply.”

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Here’s a little thing we find hanging around on plants, sometimes fences or walls. What is it?

I’ll pop back with the answer later!

~~~

Hey, there, this is a tricky one. The insect that made this covering is a bagworm, the larval stage of the Bagworm Moth. The caterpillar collects small materials from it’s surroundings—sticks, leaves or conifer needles, and even dirt and rocks—and sticks them together with his silk to make a case to protect his soft body while he continues to eat. The ‘bag’ grows with him, as he builds onto it. Then when it’s time to metamorphose into a moth, he sticks the case somewhere and turns to a pupae, then later emerges as an adult moth.

It really works for these caterpillars; we hardly ever see them and have given up trying to tear into their silk to get at them.