Pawpaw Sphinx

Pawpaw Sphinx - Sphingidae - Dolba hyloeus (7784) - August G. Beckemeier C.A.
Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area, St. Louis County, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area, St. Louis County, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx (Brown Phase) – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – St. Francois State Park, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – Piney River Narrows Natural Area, Texas County, MO. Parasitized.
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Pelecinid Wasp

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Pelecinid Wasp – Pelecinidae – Pelecinus polyturator.  Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, Madison County, MO.

Parasitoids of insect larvae, the Pelecinid Wasp female uses her extremely large abdomen to thrust through soil to deposit eggs primarily on scarab beetles.  I assume the family and genus names are derived from the Greek – pelicos, referring to the great size of the wasp.  Females can reach lengths of up to 6 cm.  No need to worry, these guys do not have stingers.

-OZB

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.

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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.

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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.

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Skiff Moth – Limacodidae – Prolimacodes badia (4669). Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln Co, MO.

-OZB

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Next up is the spineless, Yellow-shouldered Slug.

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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