Tuesday, August 5, 2014

royal encounter


It's been awhile since we visited with this wondrous thing.

We were exploring the Serendipity and Discovery Trails at Ijams with the camp kids two weeks ago. Both trails are aptly named; you almost always find something interesting. The forest at the Homesite is much older than the woods that surround the Visitor Center.

As we climbed the hill we spotted a regal moth, a.k.a. royal walnut moth (Citheronia regalis) clinging to a low stem, eye-level for the campers to study. Either name works, the colorful lepidopteran is rather regal. Yet, upon closer inspection, I realized it was two members of royalty, a prince and princess. Katie took a couple of photos and we moved on, telling the kids that "they were on a date and needed their privacy."

There's a general rule: if the moth is beautiful then the caterpillar is rather plain, or vice versa. Yet, the royal walnut is an exception, both ends of the life cycle are clad in spectacular attire. 

Once mated the female will spend the rest of her short life laying eggs that will soon hatch into the big-boys of the larval moth world. Host plants include hickories, pecan, butternut, black walnut, sweet gum, persimmon and sumacs, all are found at Ijams.

The last time we visited the caterpillar stage was a few years ago. Click: hickory horned devil.

- Photos by Katie Plank 

No comments: