NMW: Masters of Disguise

Do you see anything unusual on these blazing star flowers?

How about now?
For most caterpillars, life is about 4 things:
don't get eaten.

That last one is a doozy - caterpillars make up a huge portion of the diet of most songbirds.  There is a lot of pressure to not be seen.  Nothing does 'I'm not here' better than the Camouflaged Looper, Synchlora aerata.

Theses little loopers are quite common, but it took me years of looking to finally see one.  The larva snips off pieces of the plant that it is eating and uses silk to attach tiny bouquets to its back, taking on the very color and texture of its host plant.  As generalists, they feed on a wide variety of host plants and therefore come in a rainbow of colors, I have featured them in orange, green, and purple, and they have become a favorite of mine to photograph.  The adult is a delightful emerald moth:
As with so many things; patience is the secret for finding these guys.  I find flowers on known host plants and simply stare at them from different angles until one of the blossoms wiggles or poops.  It happens more often than you might imagine!


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