One in Adelphi, Maryland, one in Wildwood, Florida, one at the US National Arboretum with a grandfatherly interest in many more around the DC area (unless noted, pictures are taken the day of post)
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Yellow necked caterpillar, Datana ministra
I love the "gregarious" caterpillars. They're like a school of fish; they move together. You can conduct them by moving your hand back and forth where they can see it. They shift in unison as though they were watching a tennis match. These were enthusiastically consuming one of our wild-collected Chinese oaks. Katie was showing Aurora (the Education Unit intern) around the collection and they discovered them. They brought this guy back to show me. I photographed it and Katie asked, "should I squash it?" I said, "sure but nobody ever wants to do that." Aurora volunteered, rather disturbingly, that she was happy to do it. I don't know about these young people. Anyway after dispatching this one, they got a ladder and went back to eliminate his siblings. My suggestion for disposing of them was a bucket of soapy water. I used to use that for the Gypsy moth caterpillars we trapped in Fern Valley. I passed them later and they were hard at their work though not happy about the caterpillars pooping on them.