Intriguing Owlet Moth and Caterpillar Photography Slideshow

Check out a selection of quirky and stunning owlet moth and caterpillar images from all over eastern North America.
By David L. Wagner, Dale F. Schweitzer, J. Bolling Sullivan & Richard C. Reardon
July 15, 2012
Add to My MSN

"Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America" showcases 2,100 color photographs illustrating 800 species of owlet moths and caterpillars, many of them never documented before. Captured here is a Sordid Snout Caterpillar, Hypena sordidula. 
PHOTO: PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Capture the Beauty of Autumn

Keep these tips in mind when planning your next fall photo shoot.

Mother's Day Lilacs

Mother's Day weekend brought lilacs, bedding plants, pie and a nap.

Warding Off Vampires at Sunflower (Garlic) Farm

It's an aromatic time of year at Sunflower Farm - time to clean the garlic!

Beekeeping Photography

This is a great first guest post for Geoff Fitzgerald and his beekeeping photography aspirations. Fo...

Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Princeton University Press, 2011) is a lavishly illustrated field guide featuring more than 800 species of the most common, interesting, beautiful and important owlet moths and caterpillars found in eastern North America. Thousands of stunning images, information on larval diets, natural enemies and biology will help you identify the owlets near you. The slideshow in this article's Image Gallery features 50 of our favorite owlet moth and caterpillar images from the book. The following text has been taken from the book's introduction. 

By virtue of their sheer diversity and abundance, owlet caterpillars and adults have become enmeshed in the ecological processes of forests, grasslands, and other terrestrial ecosystems. Owlet caterpillars are common on trees and most woody plants in the spring, when foliage is soft and rich with nutrients. Another peak of larval abundance occurs in late summer and fall, mostly on composites and grasses.

Owlet moths represent one of the most successful branches on the tree of life, whether measured in terms of species numbers, mass, or ecological importance. Caterpillars are a staple for insectivorous vertebrates. Birds are particularly reliant on caterpillars, and many insectivorous species time their nesting activities to periods of peak larval abundance—nestling survival would be appreciably lower in forests lacking owlet larvae. Goatsuckers move with storm fronts to feed on the abundance of moths that push northward on the leading edge of tropical storm cells— we estimate that greater than 90% of the moth biomass in these migratory swarms is made up of armyworms (Mythimna and Spodoptera), loopers (various Plusiinae), and other owlets.

Insectivorous mammals, including mice, shrews, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and many others, consume cutworms and other owlet caterpillars (and their pupae) found near the ground; some mice ascend shrubs and trees during their nocturnal forays for insect prey. Some insectivorous bats are dependent on moths and, by default, noctuoids. The colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that roosts under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, is said to harvest more than 35,000 pounds of insects during the course of some nights. And the colony of 20 million Mexican free-tails that pours forth at twilight from Bracken Cave, Texas, purportedly consumes more than 100 tons of insects each night before returning to its roost. No doubt a healthy fraction, and perhaps the largest, is made up of noctuoids. Even mammals as large as bears feed on cutworm adults. Of particular importance are aggregations of the Army Cutworm (Euxoa auxiliaris), which aestivates by the millions in talus slopes in the Rockies. The communal gatherings are a critical food store for the grizzly bears of Yellowstone National Park and presumably for bear populations elsewhere. A single bear is estimated to eat 20,000 to 30,000 moths a day during portions of the summer—as much as one-third of the calorie required for an entire year may derive from the consumption of owlet moths (Mattson et al. 1991; French et al. 1994; White et al. 1998a, b).

The pollination services provided by noctuoids are underappreciated (Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America 2007). Many cuculliines, hadenines, heliothines, plusiines, xylenines, and myriad others avidly seek nectar at flowers. Owlets are among the most common insects to visit flowers of apple, apricot, aster, basswood, buttonbush, campion, cherry, fireweed, goldenrod, jasmine, lobelia, milkweed, various orchids, phlox, pinks, red maple, wild plum, willow, white snakeroot and other eupatoriums, as well as other plants that offer nectar at night. Noctuidae may be the principal pollinators of Platanthera and other white-flowered orchids. 

The indirect effect of plant-animal interactions on the quality and culture of our day-to-day lives are too commonly overlooked.

Owlet Moth and Caterpillar Photography

Visit the Image Gallery for our favorite photographs from Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America, or click on one of the titles below to navigate straight to the listed image. 

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David L. Wagner, Dale F. Schweitzer, J. Bolling Sullivan & Richard C. Reardon, published by Princeton University Press, 2011.  


Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.