|Milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle)|
Pity the poor milkweed leaf in August. The caterpillars of the milkweed tussock moth (a.k.a. milkweed tiger moth) are ravenous. They're a common mid- to late-summer feeder on both milkweed and dogbane.
As Wiki reports, “Early instars appear slightly 'hairy' and gray. They skeletonize whole leaves gregariously, leaving a lacy remnant. They are gregarious until the third instar. Later instars sport tufts of black, white and orange (sometimes yellow) setae. The head capsule is black. The later instars wander much more, and may appear alone or in small clusters.”
I cringe anytime I hear the word “skeletonize.” Remember the basement acid scene in Vincent Price’s “House on Haunted Hill”? Reduced to a skeleton in a blink of an eye; not a pleasant way to go.
Look for these fuzzy munchers in the plaza in front of the Visitor Center.
- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales