Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Meet a bug

photo by Colleen Wolpert, used with permission
This is the time of year you might find fuzzy pink-and-yellow moths clinging to your window screen or perched on the side of your house. At least that's where I find them. They are Rosy Maple moths. They spent the winter just below the surface of the ground, pupating, and in May and June they emerge.

The adults don't eat anything but spend their days mating and laying eggs. Those eggs will hatch into green-striped "maple worms" that munch on a variety of maple leaves (sugar, red, silver, box elder) as well as oak leaves.

photo by Colleen Wolpert, used with permission
According to Mary Holland, who wrote Naturally Curious, the caterpillars engage in possum tricks when handled. That is, they lie on their sides and curl their abdomen up under their thorax, pretending to be dead.

The Maple moths have a place in their local food web: they provide food for blue jays, tufted titmice, and black-capped chickadees. They also serve as hosts for parasitic flies and wasps.

So as you're out and about this spring, carry a magnifying lens along. If you come across this critter, take a close look at its antennae, wings, and furry body. Learn more about these moths here.

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