Butterflies (and moths) Flutterby

SUNDAY, JULY 14, 2013

We naturalists don’t usually report in from the family tours, but we had some unfinished business from today’s family walk (unidentified caterpillar), so I thought I would send in a quick note.

First, the unidentified caterpillar: I’ve concluded that the Mystery Caterpillar was the larva of a moth known as the Rough Prominent (Nadata gibbosa). The caterpillar is also known as the Green Oak caterpillar—because they feed on oak leaves. Indeed, the one we found was on the leaf of an oak tree. They are blue-green during part of their development (as was the one we saw) and turn bright green as they end their larval stage. You can search for images and see if you agree with my conclusion.

Rough Prominent moth

We also saw a tiny monarch caterpillar on the underside of a swamp milkweed leaf in the native plant garden. It was only about 1 cm long, and the width of a toothpick.

monarch eggs and tiny caterpillars

A couple of visitors noted that they thought this was a low-monarch year. I searched the internet to see if I could find any information about this year’s population size and I found this, for those who are interested:
Scroll down to the post entitled “Monarch Population Status” dated 29 May 2013. The short story is: Yes, indeed, very low population size this year.

We were lucky to see quite a few leopard frogs in Teal pond. They were poking their noses out of the water, close to the edge, by the belly board. It’s a good time to spot the frogs there—others have seen them recently, too.

We had no problem with mosquitos in Curtis prairie (which is in full splendor). The wooded areas—and even parts of Longenecker—however, are thick with mosquitos this year. Be prepared!

-Sara Cohen Christophersen

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.