Meet the Slugs – Skiff Moth

The highly variable colors and patterns of the skiff moth are hypothesized to mimic senescent/necrotic lesions on leaf surfaces.  They often have paired white spots that are thought to mimic the eggs of the tachinid fly, a parasite that enters the caterpillar after hatching.  These “egg mimics” are hypothesized to work by dissuading flies that may attempt to avoid depositing eggs on victims that were previously parasitized.

Skiff Moth - Limacodidae - Prolimacodes badia (4669). Hickory Canyon Natural Area – Sainte Genevieve Co, MO.
Skiff Moth – Limacodidae – Prolimacodes badia (4669). Hickory Canyon Natural Area – Sainte Genevieve Co, MO.

These guys remind me of the tornado chasing vehicles that were on those TV shows about a decade ago.

skiff-moth-limacodidae-prolimacodes-badia-4669-img_7765
Skiff Moth – Limacodidae – Prolimacodes badia (4669). St. Francois State Park, St. Francois Co, MO.

This one was photographed on my wife, Sarah’s finger at Shaw Nature Reserve.

skiff-moth-limacodidae-prolimacodes-badia-4669-img_8609
Skiff Moth – Limacodidae – Prolimacodes badia (4669). Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin Co, MO.

Finally, I was able to photograph the adult during National Moth Night this summer.

skiff-moth-limacodidae-prolimacodes-badia-4669-img_7070
Skiff Moth – Limacodidae – Prolimacodes badia (4669). Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln Co, MO.

-OZB

Advertisements

Birds of the Texas Gulf Coast

A few birds from our birding trip to the Texas gulf coast during May 2016.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Tyrannidae - Tyrannus forficatus. East End Lagoon Preserve, Galveston TX.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – Tyrannidae – Tyrannus forficatus. East End Lagoon Preserve, Galveston TX.

 

Swainsons Hawk - Accipitridae - Buteo swainsoni. Anahuac NWR, TX.
Swainsons Hawk – Accipitridae – Buteo swainsoni. Anahuac NWR, TX.

 

Purple Gallinule - Rallidae - Porphyrio martinica. Anahuac NWR, TX.
Purple Gallinule – Rallidae – Porphyrio martinica. Anahuac NWR, TX.

Meet the Slugs – Nason’s Slug

In my anecdotal experience of hunting for slug caterpillars over a six to eight week period this summer, the Nason’s slug (Natada nasoni – Hodges #4679) was by far the most abundant that I came across.  This was particularly true in the drier, oak/hickory/pine hillsides of Hickory Canyon N.A. in Sainte Genevieve County.

nasans-slug-limacodidae-natada-nasoni-4679-img_7670
Nason’s Slug – Limacodidae – Natada nasoni (4679).  Horseshoe Bend Natural Area – Washington SP, Texas Co, MO.

This species is able to retract its spines, elongating them to their fullest with any notion of danger.  These guys have pretty substantial spines and because the cats were so abundant, I found I was accidentally stung a few times while lifting vegetation.  This was not a pleasant experience.

nasans-slug-limacodidae-natada-nasoni-4679-img_8286
Nason’s Slug – Limacodidae – Natada nasoni (4679).  Hickory Canyon Natural Area – Sainte Genevieve Co, MO.

I really enjoy the colors and patterns this species displays.

nasans-slug-limacodidae-natada-nasoni-4679-img_8281
Nason’s Slug – Limacodidae – Natada nasoni (4679). Hickory Canyon Natural Area – Sainte Genevieve Co, MO.

The image below was one that I had previsualized and worked a good bit on to get it right.  I used my plamp to hold the leaf and attached the plamp to a dead limb to position the leaf high enough to get the leaf and caterpillar back lit by the sun.  I then used just a bit of flash to illuminate the ‘face’ of the caterpillar and the underside of the leaf.  In cases where I removed the leaf to get a photo, I always placed the leaf securely back on the same plant.

nasans-slug-limacodidae-natada-nasoni-4679-img_8406
Nason’s Slug – Limacodidae – Natada nasoni (4679). Hickory Canyon Natural Area – Sainte Genevieve Co, MO.

-OZB

Meet the Slugs – Stinging Rose Caterpillar

Stinging Rose Caterpillar -Limacodidae - Parasa Intermedia (4699). Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln Co, MO.
Stinging Rose Caterpillar -Limacodidae – Parasa intermedia (4699). Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln Co, MO.

Arguably the most stunning of Missouri’s slug moth caterpillars, the Stinging Rose Caterpillar can most often be found on oak and hickory saplings. However, a number of other woody species (including those in the rose family) will also be used as host plants.

stinging-rose-caterpillar-limacodidae-parasa-intermedia-4699-img_8884
Stinging Rose Caterpillar -Limacodidae – Parasa intermedia (4699). Horseshoe Bend Natural Area – Washington SP, Texas Co, MO.

This is one of the species I voluntarily allowed to sting me – it wasn’t that bad, perhaps a mild ‘stinging-nettle’ type of experience that was gone in 30 minutes or so.

stinging-rose-caterpillar-limacodidae-parasa-intermedia-4699-img_7609
Stinging Rose Caterpillar -Limacodidae – Parasa intermedia (4699). Horseshoe Bend Natural Area – Washington SP, Texas Co, MO.

The image below shows a little of the variety of color and patterns that can be found in this species, this one showing more of a yellow/orange background.  Some animals can be found that are completely yellow.

stinging-rose-caterpillar-limacodidae-parasa-intermedia-4699-img_8877
Stinging Rose Caterpillar -Limacodidae – Parasa intermedia (4699). Horseshoe Bend Natural Area – Washington SP, Texas Co, MO.

-OZB

Meet the Slugs…

Crowned Slug -Limacodidae - Isa textula (4681)
Crowned Slug -Limacodidae – Isa textula (4681).  Photographed at Hickory Canyon NA, Ste. Genevieve County, MO.

I’m sharing three different slugs tonight.  First up is arguably one of the more attractive of this group, the Crowned Slug.

crowned-slug-limacodidae-isa-textula-4681-img_8339
Crowned Slug -Limacodidae – Isa textula (4681). Photographed at Hickory Canyon NA, Ste. Genevieve County, MO.

Next up is the spineless, Yellow-shouldered Slug.

yellow-shouldered-slug-limacodidae-lithacodes-fasciola-4665-img_8201
Yellow-shouldered Slug – Limacodidae – Lithacodes fasciola (4665). Photographed at Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln County, MO.

Last of all is the Purple-crested Slug.  This is the only individual of this species I was able to find this year.

Purple-crested slug - Limacodidae - Adoneta spinuloides (4685)
Purple-crested slug – Limacodidae – Adoneta spinuloides (4685).  Photographed at Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln County, MO.

-OZB

Location Spotlight – Return to Mingo NWR and Wilderness

Mingo - Monopoly Marsh
Mingo – Monopoly Marsh

Way back in April, Steve and I grabbed the canoe and took another adventure into Mingo.  We believe we were a bit too early in a long spring to catch a lot of wildlife activity, but we did catch a few sites worth remembering.  For instance, this single Coot allowed us to get pretty close as we were just getting inside Monopoly Marsh.

American Coot - Mingo Wilderness
American Coot – Mingo Wilderness

Along with water-loving avifauna, certain reptiles can usually be a sure thing to find at Mingo.  I heard the expected usual whimpering from the back of the canoe as I attempted to get a steady shot of this Cottonmouth that was trying to absorb some sun on this cool April morning. 😉

cottonmouth-520a9462
American Coot – Mingo Wilderness

One of the more destructive and unfortunate of invasive species to be found in Missouri, the Feral Hog has a strong foothold at Mingo.  Polluting water, destroying vegetation, negatively altering natural communities and competing with native wildlife for acorns and other food sources are the major examples of the damages caused by this invasive.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has recently announced new policy that should make significant improvements in reducing the numbers of Feral Hogs in the Missouri Ozarks.

520a9259
Not as Cute as they Seem! – Feral Hogs, Mingo Wilderness

Finally, we have one of the expected and desired of Mingo’s mammals – the Virginia Opossum.  This nicely colored possum didn’t mind that Steve and I watch as it had a mid-day snack.

Virginia Opossum - Mingo NWR
Virginia Opossum – Mingo NWR

-OZB