Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Joys of Country Living- Part IV

(Part IV Continued)

Parasa interermina- click to enlarge
I returned to the swing and started to read when I noticed some green and brown stuff on the upholstery.  I thought it had blown off the trees and brushed one off-  and it flew!  I collected several in an insect box and put one under magnification and realized it was a moth.

After a lot of web browsing, I came up with a fit, the Stinging Rose Moth, Parasa_indetermina.  It has a wingspan of an inch and even on close inspection I can't find evidence of a head.  Talk about camouflage- this moth should be a turkey hunter.

A Headless Wonder
These moths are wide spread in the Eastern US but are generally uncommon.  They fly in June and lay eggs in July.  The larval caterpillar hides under leaves as it feeds on a wide variety of trees including the rose family (Rosacae- apple and cherry), dogwood, hickory, maple, and oak.  They over winter in their cocoons.

If the moth is interesting, the caterpillar is spectacular.  In fact, I had a hard time finding identifying the moth as 80% of pictures are of the caterpillar.  "The head capsule is complete, but it is usually withdrawn and concealed in the prothorax,"* making it hard to see which end is the head if it isn't moving.

Stinging Rose Caterpillars- Wikimedia
The "stinging" in Stinging Rose caterpillar refers to the stinging hairs described at uark.edu.  Their urticating hairs, actually spines, have a poison gland at the base.  Touch them and the tip breaks off, leaving a stinging sensation like the notorious Saddle Back caterpillar.

While the moth depends on protective coloration, the cat practically screams at predators, "Come on, you want a piece of me?  Give me your best shot!"  The bright aposematic coloration warns predators "Don't even think about it Buster."

*The uark.edu site has more details as well as drawing showing the structure of urticating spines.

This species was reported to BAMONA, the first documentation in Christian County.

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