A Life Critter

A few days ago, while photographing asters in my wildflower garden, I was focused in tightly on an aster bud when I noticed a nearby aster plant branch moving. I took a minute to look over the area and found a new, “life” caterpillar on the aster plant. After a few days of working at identifying the critter, I found that it is an Asteroid Moth (Cucullia asteroides). The interesting thing I observed was that he was busy chewing up one of the aster flowers! This was the first time I’ve ever seen this behavior from either a butterfly or moth caterpillar; typically, you will find them chewing on either the plant’s stem or leaves.

Here are a few of my favorite images of this new find:

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

Asteroid Moth caterpillar feeding on purple aster wildflowers

I had a rather difficult time getting a really good shot of his head … he constantly had his head down, inside the flower, chomping up the “goodies”. Another interesting behavior was that I could move the tripod about and shoot, with no negative effects on the little guy … I don’t think he even knew I was there. But the instant I touched a plant branch, he sensed the movement and would immediately freeze and hold completely still for a couple of minutes. Then he would resume his feasting on the asters!

I also found that the western edge of this moth’s range is roughly along where I live, so that is probably why I hadn’t seen one of these guys before. I also found that the host plants for this moth are asters and goldenrod wildflowers :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180 macro lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT carbon fiber tripod, with 3 Pod H-3 ballhead
  • ISO 400 to ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/6.3 to f/16
  • Shutter 1/40 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

 

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Posted in 2015, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers
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