Black and Yellow Striped Caterpillars Love Blueberry Leaves

Last week the yellow-necked caterpillar made a return! We hadn’t seen these voracious caterpillars for a couple of years then outta nowhere they’re seen huddled together on an almost naked blueberry branch.

Yellowneck Caterpillars Gorging Themselves on Blueberry Leaves
Yellowneck Caterpillars Gorging Themselves on Blueberry Leaves
(Photos taken 13 August 2017. Click on any image to see a larger view.)

Take note of the thin yellow segment just behind the black head. That’s how it got its name, Yellownecked Caterpillar.

If I just let them go on eating, I wonder how much of a single blueberry bush they could eat? Funny, when I noticed them these black and yellow caterpillars were huddled in a group on a bare stem. Do they eat at night? Or were they just finishing their meal when I happened upon them?

This morning I see another bare stem on a blueberry bush so I’ll have to go out with some clippers to prevent more damage.

One cool thing about the yellownecked caterpillar, Datana ministra, is its habit of curling both ends of its body when threatened. It’s a defensive posture that they make, but I’m wondering what other caterpillars do this?

Yellowneck Caterpillars Make a U-Shape When Disturbed
Yellowneck Caterpillars Make a U-Shape When Disturbed

If you see these caterpillars on your ornamental trees, shade trees or fruit trees, shake the branch they’re on and they’ll show you who’s the biggest!

What kind of butterfly makes the yellow-necked caterpillar?

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Swallow-Tailed Kite Spotted in Pennsylvania

I saw a new bird this week! It’s exciting because I don’t often get that experience of seeing one new to me. Funny, I don’t keep a bird list, but when you spot one that you haven’t seen before, you just know it.

While driving to a nearby Amish lady’s farmer stand to pick up some corn and tomatoes I noticed this large bird flying low. It was doing some acrobatics or maybe loop-t-loos and that made me wonder what kind of seagull is that?

This bird was about the size of a seagull, but we’re not near the ocean. Sure, we see seagulls in autumn sometimes and definitely in winter, but in the summer not so much.

Its tail was forked and the wings pointed and I was pretty sure it was some kind of kite, but I’d never seen a kite in real life. I’d have to run home and check my bird book, I like Peterson’s Eastern Birds, to see the images and descriptions to be sure.

The one thing I was totally sure of was that I had never seen one before. Cool, a new bird!

I stopped the car in the middle of that country road and glanced in the rear view mirror as I reached for my camera. Not much traffic to worry about in these parts so I pushed the lever into “P” to park for a minute.

As I watched the bird criss-cross the road and fly over the cornfields on either side it didn’t seem to be bothered that I was there.

The photos could be a lot better but you can still tell what it is…a Swallow-Tailed Kite!

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