I snapped this image on a recent trip to the woods in my area. I was out to capture some fall color and this milkweed caught my eye. I found it on the edge of the woods, as I was leaving. The fine fibers of the seeds were slowly undulating in the light breeze. It may not be as exciting as brightly colored leaves, but I thought it was a very cool, and beautiful, view of nature.
The milkweed, is an American genus of herbaceous perennial, dicotyledonous plants that contains over 140 known species. Milkweed is an important plant because so many species of insects depend on it. For example, monarch butterflies, milkweed bugs, and milkweed leaf beetles only eat milkweed, and could not survive without it.
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This is one hungry, little dust-mop! Look at how much of that leaf it’s already consumed. It is a Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar.
When I took this picture, I didn’t notice the interesting, synchronized curl to those orange and white tufts of hair. It just looked like your run-of-the-mill fuzzy caterpillar. Enlarging the image, often reveals surprising aspects of the insect world.
By the way, the head is that shiny black part on the edge of the leaf, mostly covered by hair. (He needs to trim his bangs.)
This was actually in a very difficult spot to photograph due to other vegetation being in the way. To try and get a better shot, I slowly, gently bent the leaf he was on. They must not have sticky feet because, at the slightest angel, it immediately slid off the leaf and into the dense weeds below…never to be seen again.
To really see the detail of this creature, click on the photo and a larger version will open in a new browser tab.