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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A silken nest

Just a short little story about a caterpillar and its host plant.

If you ever come across a silken nest of everlasting or cudweed flowers...

...it may be a clue that there's an animal living inside:

I gently pulled aside a portion of this nest to expose the caterpillar within (but I closed it up again after I took these pictures). 

This is the caterpillar of an American Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis).  It made a wonderful nest on an everlasting plant (Pseudognaphalium sp., formerly Gnaphalium sp.) in the Bodega Dunes.  The caterpillar binds the flowers and other plant material together to form a shelter.  It crawls away from the nest to feed on the plant's leaves.  I posted about American Lady butterfly adults previously, but this is the first time I've photographed a caterpillar of this species locally.

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