|"Cat" on a red hot napkin.|
Caterpillars coming out of an egg are tiny and eat their way to full size. This caterpillar is a member of the Geometridae family (Geo= earth, Metridae= measure). It travels by fastening the hooks of its tiny prolegs on the rear segment to the ground, then extending its body as though looking around for the prefect perch for its 3 pair of front legs. It was very confused by its surroundings as both of us were trying to figure how it got here.
|"Anybody see a fresh leaf? Where is the salad?"|
|Crochets of a dagger moth larva- Brigette Zacharczenko|
The overwintering geometrid caterpillars start to roam just as buds open to provide fresh and tender leaves of their selected species. The timing is critical for survival of the caterpillar and its predators. Migrating birds depend on these early risers for food when little else is available.
Global warming or unusual seasonal temperature changes throws off the system. This looper is out a little too early as the only buds opening around the house deep in the valley and away from the early sun are on a small clove currant, Ribes odoratum.
Global warming also affects the forest nesting birds which feed on loopers when they first arrive at their seasonal home. The caterpillars' emergence is signaled by temperature while bird migration is triggered by the length of the day and the number of hours of sun. Without a phone app to warn birds of the disconnect, they have no way of knowing whether their cats are out of their bags.
Further information from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.
* From one of my favorite books, Bernd Heinrich's Winter World. He is a wonderful writer and has a number of books to choose from.