It's the first Wednesday of December and time for a late fall look at wildlife in the garden hosted by Tina at "My Gardener Says..." This is all about caterpillars (mostly). When we lived in colder climates it was common to hear predictions for the coming winter based on the width of woolly caterpillar stripes. Woolly Bear caterpillars are typically black front and back with a belted orange stripe around the middle. As the folklore goes, the wider the orange stripe the milder the winter and conversely, a narrower stripe means a colder winter. With that in mind, let us consult our fuzzy friends about the coming winter's forecast.
So what does it mean if the caterpillar is all black with no orange stripe? Hmmmm, not an auspicious start....
This one? Black with a touch of orange. Hedging our bets, are we?
And this one? Equally ambivalent.
Or one that is almost entirely orange? I like it a lot, but it seems like the caterpillar equivalent of a member of the Optimist's Society.
What if the orange and black stripes run lengthwise instead of around? More orange than black?
What about this gray one with black stripe?
Maybe they are trying to cover all the weather bases. This is Texas after all so we can predict deep freezes with ice and possibly snow followed closely by hot weather before another freeze sets in. Hot days will give way to 40-50 degree drops and blanket us with three days of below freezing weather before going back up just as fast as it dropped. We will have an early freeze (check that one off already) and probably a late freeze in early April. There will be whole weeks where we need no heat or air conditioning. So the caterpillars are all correct!
Fact is none of those shown above are the famous woolly caterpillar which always has an orange belt stripe of varying dimension. Another interesting fact is most common caterpillar ID sites don't feature fuzzy caterpillars. The best I could do is figure out all of the above are moth caterpillars and you should not pick them up unless you are sure which one. While the Woolly Bear is safe, others may carry venom which would be a nasty surprise. A friend recently felt a sharp sting while gardening and later determined she had been stung by an Asp caterpillar. Her description of long-lasting nerve pain was similar to a scorpion sting. Ouch!
A few more sightings from last month are this White-striped longtail moth. A fairly descriptive name.
Shadows on a Gulf Fritillary
A checkered butterfly enjoying the last wildflowers of the season.
Nice pose but I don't remember.....What are you looking at???
White-tailed bucks are feeling frisky and running all over the neighborhood in such a way that we must be careful when driving or walking. Most of the year the bucks are cautious animals hiding in the woods until the fall season when their hormones go nuts and they take surprising risks of being seen by hunters or hit by a car. A deer can cause as much damage as another vehicle or worse.
His attention is directed at this lady who will play hard-to-get until she is ready. He will circle for as long as it takes.
That's the wildlife wrap for 2018.
Check out Tina's post at "My Gardener Says..." for more wildlife in the garden.