Here is a rarity I found lurking in my garden, a very unusual caterpillar; I have only seen one before. This fellow is incredibly small, as he must be in a first or second instar. A single blot on a milkweed leaf, he is so tiny he could be easily overlooked, barely a ¼ long. This was great subject for my macro- lens.
A Saddleback Caterpillar, Acharia stimulea looks a bit like a two-headed Pomeranian with a bad hair day and a neon green saddle. And this doggy BITES! If you try the link, be sure to scroll through the remarks and you will see how many people have reported a nasty after-effect from their meeting with a Saddleback. A surprisingly small caterpillar, even full-grown ones don’t top out much more than an inch long, but the stingers on both ends are all business.
This is another case of an amazingly bizarre caterpillar that becomes a very bland looking moth. All their excitement must be the larval form.
Wagner’s caterpillar guide says they hatch out and feed communally at first. He should have 30-40 brothers and sisters hanging about, and I am not quite sure if I am excited to find them or not. Of course, the book says they eat lots of things: apple, aster, cabbage, corn, maple, oak… but not milkweed. Apparently this little tan and green guy did not read the book. I am going to raise him under close supervision for a while and I have offered him apple leaves, which he promptly snubbed. So, it is milkweed for this “Mikey”. Hope he likes being part of the family.