Friday, 6 September 2013

Few Monarchs but lots of Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars!

The milkweed pods are huge.
Soon, they will be flying like snow.
.
Fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar
They are everywhere.

I spotted only a single Monarch this year.  Their population is estimated to be down by 80% due to 2012 drought. The Milkweed tussocks are cleaning up! It doesn't harm the milkweed, as they have happily produced seed pods. They are ripe with seed pods, hanging heavily from the plants.
Our fields are densely populated with milkweed.

I was fascinated with them. I took a walk yesterday and spotted four of them all lined up, efficiently grazing in a row. Daisy and I didn't have the camera. They make me think of my macrame days, when we made anything, or the endless rug-hooking we did.

These moths lay two broods, especially in a good year like this one. With luck, the Monarchs will come back, too.
The caterpillars look like they aren't real, made of wiry wool, with lovely orange, black and white colouring.
Isn't it sweet?
My attempt at a drawing.
Interesting moths.
I scoured my files to find a photo of a Milkweed tussock moth, and failed. Instead, I decided to draw one, rather than steal an image, based on a series of photos on bugguide.net. The white moth I have has spots, which these guys do not posses. The specimen images seem to be more of a buff colour, but ID.net says they are grey.

I'm sure the ones in some of the photos are dead, as it is tough with some moths to poke it enough to peek at the underwing. I've been getting more bold with them, and pulling out the Tiger moth's orange underwing. My large Imperial moth, 4" across, who sat on my front fence for 24 hours, was quite brave.
This might be close!
Bipectinate antennae
Either way, it is late in the season to see them. I played outside in the lights in the dark and couldn't spot any. 

They have cool antennae, with little feathery bits on either side, which means it is a bipectinate antennae. It can be pectinate, with feathers on one side, or filiform (none at all). Butterflies have a clubbed antennae.

Imperial moth,
is the diameter of my finger.
The same feathers on the head!
This one is close to the Tussock
but not quite.
They are fuzzy-wuzzy headed things, feathered almost, with a soft gray colouring, depending upon the photographer. The underwing and forewings are not coloured much. Their hidden bodies are a bright golden yellow, and yellow band with a dark spot. 
I submitted my post to Paint Party Friday, hoping to be further inspired and motivated to sketch a bit more. 


14 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
I love your bug posts! The close-up of the Imperial head is adorable. The post with the garden is fascinating too.. I believe the building type is 'yurt'? I once dreamed of having such a place. Never to be, but still managed a pretty good wee cottage for a while.

Here's to the impending weekend! YAM xx

Karla B aka Lady Skyclad said...

Fabulous pictures. Hugs from Brazil and happy PPF!

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

Fuzzies are out and about here too. Nice sketches. xox

Linda said...

great shots and I love your moth drawing! Happy PPF!

Hilary said...

The imperial moth image is fascinating and the multitude of caterpillars is quite amazing. They look like colourful, miniature pipe cleaners.

Mary C. Nasser said...

Wonderful photos and lovely moth study! I love the combination of art with science!
♥♥♥
Happy PPF!!
Mary
Mixed-Media Map Art

Diana Evans said...

what a great post!!! love the photos!!! and your work!! Have a great weekend!

Christine said...

beautiful drawing of these interesting creatures!

Mary Walker said...

Moths are so cool love the closeup shot

Kay said...

The Monarchs eat crown flower leaves here in Hawaii. The crown flower plant has a milky sap. I've not seen a single Monarch in our neighborhood for a long, long time. Instead I've seen an occasional butterfly that looks like a swallowtail.

Judy said...

I haven't seen any of these moths or caterpillars! I guess I quit looking at the milkweed, when it got too cold for monarchs (I have not seen any this year;-()

Irene Rafael said...

what a delight seeing these beautiful moths and your sketch. my dear friend who is from toronto but now lives near me in so. california is at her cottage in muskoka right now. it's a lovely time of year there.

Red said...

So next year there should be lots of Tussock moths. It's quite the site to see so many caterpillars.

Kay L. Davies said...

Cute caterpillars.
K