Subject: Cuckoo for caterpillars (Food Chain)
Location: Louisa Co., Virginia, USA
August 17, 2016 10:24 am
I have a 9-year-old honeylocust which this year has the most glorious infestation of some apparently delicious caterpillars. I am an avid birdwatcher and have contented myself with mostly listening for the shy, elusive cuckoos that appear in my yard every year. However, for the past week they have not been able to stay away from this tree and the buffet the caterpillars are providing – as many as 3 cuckoos hanging around gorging themselves just outside my door. I’m not concerned about the tree – just a bit of minor defoliation, and it’s late in the season – but I sure hope that whatever bug this is decides to come back from now on so I can get such fantastic views of yellow-billed cuckoos!
Signature: Winston B
Goodness, Gracious Winston,
This one proved to be a far greater challenge to us than we anticipated. We recall having identified this distinctive caterpillar species in the past, and we were relatively certain it was a Flannel Moth Caterpillar, so we searched our own archive. We looked at hundreds of old postings, beginning with Asps and Flannel Moth Caterpillars, but we could not locate it. We eventually found it on Walter Reeves Venomous (Poisonous) Caterpillars site where it is identified as a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar. We then returned to our own site, but the most recent posting we had of a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar, Norape ovina, was 2007, and that predated our site overhaul and recategorization method. According to BugGuide: “Caterpillar has stinging spines” but obviously, your Cuckoos are unaffected by the spines or venom. BugGuide also notes: “Species name ovina is Latin, meaning ‘of or like sheep'” and we suspect that might be a reference to their group grazing behavior. We love your Food Chain images.