Monday, March 15, 2010

Tent Caterpillar Egg Masses

The Ides of March brought another 60º day in west-central Wisconsin.

I spent the morning on the Lower Chippewa River State Trail, looking for two things I'd spotted last fall: a cocoon and a hazelnut shrub.

I was distracted by the enthusiastic spring songs of Northern Cardinals and Eastern Bluebirds, the raucous crows, the horse-like whinny of American Robins, the bugling Sandhill Cranes and the tat-tat-tat-tat of drumming woodpeckers.

I stopped to photograph a boxelder tree bud and was startled by the splash of what I thought was water on my hand.

It was sap, dripping from a twig that had been broken off by browsing deer.  Boxelders are in the maple family and this is sugar bush season in Wisconsin.  I've often wondered what boxelder sap tastes like - the bugs smell so vile.  I was hesitant, expecting the worst.  But I tried it.  It tasted like water with a hint of sugar - not bad at all.
I actually found the silk moth cocoon, 2 miles from the Tarrant Park parking lost.  I was amazed it was still there, and that I remembered exactly where.  On the walk back to the parking lot, I spotted another one.  And to think all these years, I've never once spotted a cocoon in the wild.

The woolly bear caterpillar were out and about too.  Unfortunately the bike trail was littered with their squished carcasses.

And you'd think finding the hazelnut shrub would be relatively easy.  It wasn't.  I still haven't found it.

However, I did see something I'd never noticed before:  tent caterpillar eggs.  Female moths can lay up to a thousand or so eggs in tight clusters and before they're done,  they coat the egg mass with a waterproof substance.  These insects spend most of their life-cycle as eggs. 

They will be hatching soon.

1 comment:

  1. Funny one discovers interesting blogs, such as yours ! I was searching Google for pictures of maple trees dripping sap....and I happened on yours from March 15, 2010. Go figure. I've always been keen on birds, and one mouse click led to another on your blog. Excellent photographs.
    A great blog to follow, thanks for sharing.
    Sanford, Manitoba, Canada