Friday, August 19, 2011

Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata) Camouflaged looper

What is that?

It's not part of the plant yet it looks like one of the buds coming out of the side.

It's moving!

Oh cool. I think it is a caterpillar or a sawfly larva. These were my thoughts as I took photos of this interesting tiny caterpillar. When I returned home with the photos and had a chance to sit down and thumb through David Wagners Caterpillars of Eastern North America, the best caterpillar book for my area, I was able to find it on page 200.  Camouflaged Looper (Synchlora aerata).

As it kept crawling I realized that it was not a sawfly larva because they have legs the full length of their bodies and this one only had prolegs in the front and the rear. This caterpillar type of caterpillar and that way it moves gives it the common name "inchworm".  The scientific family is Geometridae. They stretch out their bodies, grip onto something with the front legs and then pull the back up to form a loop. They look like they are measuring as they loop along.

Loopers like this one are essential to birds in my forest because they are the main diet of our nesting population. They is probably why so many of them have gone to such lengths to disguise themselves and stay hidden from the sharp eyes of birds. 

Here's a good view of this one. Most of the loopers have smooth bodies and sometines look like leaf stems.  This one has spine-like projections, sort of like the spines on the Buck Moth in my last post but these arn't as big. I would love to see how the caterpillar picks up stuff and puts it on its back. I think this one needs to refresh its foliage because I was able to spot it because the flower and leaf parts are dead. Had they been fresh I probably would never have seen it.  Wagner says overwinter as a middle instar larva.

Below is an adult that I found at my porch light in July of 2004. They are pretty impressive as well.

Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata) is the name of the adult.



Jacqueline Donnelly said...

That is just so amazing! Great photos.

Misty DawnS said...

Now that is absolutely awesome!!! One of the coolest things I've seen in a long time!

fjÀllripan said...

Unbelievable how well camoflauged that larva is!! Interesting to see.

Chubskulit Rose said...

How beautiful!

MY critter post, have a great weekend!

Icy BC said...

You took beautiful photos of nature, and I scroll down all the way of your blog to enjoy more.

Thanks for visiting..

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

wow! great camo!! now i'm wondering if maybe i've seen the loopers...but have just thought it was part of the plant...dried up leaves or whatever!! great shots & info!!

Carletta said...

What an interesting little fellow!
I don't think I would have noticed that at all. It's a reminder to us to perhaps open our eyes a little wider.

Thanks for your visit to my post this week and the lovely comment you left. I'm most appreciative.

jen said...

this is so cool! i just spotted one today on my citrus mint plants, and posted it on bugguide for identification. i had no idea such things existed! the camouflage is brilliant - mine is covered in purple and wilted citrus mint blossoms. i'd post a photo but i don't think i can in the comments. thanks for noticing one of these smart little worms too, and for blogging about it!

John | English Wilderness said...

Fantastic photos and incredible camouflage. I don't think I would've spotted it :-)