Category Archives: Insects!

It Might Be Over Soon

Re: time slipping away: it’s still funny.

The song that would have been playing is Bon Iver’s 22 (Over S∞n) and the night would have been in summer 2015, or maybe 2016. A Grumpy Old Man would have seen me eating cheese at the counter on a beautiful evening, and would have come and stood next to me to also, companionably and competitively, eat cheese. He listened to the news on earphones, and I listened to this song. The lyrics had some significance I recognized, even then. Even then. The news seemed less important.


Many species of moths start out as inchworms, measuring the miracles.

This has been a bad year for butterflies, did I mention? But insects are this summer’s taxonomic Class of interest and I would like to share with you that insects have a remarkable ability to rebound. They have evolved to take advantage of good conditions and to survive bad ones, even in very small numbers. They can re-populate at a speed that puts our most prolific ancestors to shame. So the overall insect situation is not great, is maybe even alarming. But lower numbers early in the season, especially in this bizarre season, are not necessarily so dire.

I have been seeing signs of hope. Today, sitting in my yard that is now all lush and flowery and ephemeral, I saw a Red Spotted Purple and an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Those are big graceful butterflies and leave even the uninterested person satisfied with their butterfly viewing experience. I saw a number of Eastern Tailed Blues, and endless Cabbage Whites (they’re not moths) which I am happy enough to share space with now that my kale is all eaten (some by them and some by me). They can pollinate my cucumbers without threatening the rest of my meals. And most exciting of all, as I sat not 4 feet away, a female Ruby Throated Hummingbird came zooming in from afar and made a beeline for the Bee Balm that has been blooming for a week. She took a look at me but kept eating. Bee Balm is my favorite hummingbird feeder, 5 stars.

Here is to the rebounds, even those we know better than to hope for.

Promethia Caterpillar

Twilight Promethea, and the first 5th Instar Saturniid I’ve found in the wild. Someone else found this one, which kind of started my whole entire moth thing. My Spark Bug.



First Butterfly I’ve seen at night. Maybe they are moths!! Jk.


Walnut Sphinx Caterpillar

See the Walnut Sphinx Caterpillar on its namesake food plant?



Bee Balm

No photo of the Hummingbird, but here is the Bee Balm a little earlier into its blooming. And Mountain Mint next door, another native pollinator magnet. Two days ago I saw a Horace’s Duskywing on it, another backyard first!

Caterpillars are easier to photograph than butterflies, and I have never found so many before! As far as the adults I hope you’ll take my word for it that they’re showing up out there, and maybe we’ll continue to see more.


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Dog Days of Summer (insect days really)

Happy birthday to this sweet little neglected blog! 4 years old and changing every day.

These are Dog Days indeed- one of the hottest I can remember in my 8 summers enjoying life without air conditioning. It’s usually not nearly as bad as people make it out to be- close the blinds, open the windows at night, use the ceiling fan when you’re in the room… I’m good. Sometimes it is an obstacle to cooking just when all yummiest the food is available, but I sweat it out every week or so and live to tell the tale. It is nice to smell the fresh air and hear the birds singing with the windows open and this time of year, the Cicadas! My old favorite insects are back and their chorus is what really makes summer official. Indeed, there is even a Cicada in Maryland named the Dog Day Cicada. It comes out annually, unlike its more famous red-eyed brethren.


Did you know that the Dog Days of summer occur when the constellation Sirius makes an appearance in our night sky? The Scandinavians are into celebrating anything related to non-frozen times of year and all the old Pagan traditions, so this is obviously their holiday, occurring between early July and mid-August. That is more or less when the Dog Day Cicada calls too. But here is another did you know: Did you know that there are actually 18 species of Cicadas that live here in Maryland? And that the periodic Cicadas are actually 3 different species? That is what the Maryland Biodiversity Project has listed on their website. There is not a lot of information- most of the species have no records, and the Dog Day Cicada has none! Is it a rare Cicada? I’m not even sure. Today I found a barely alive perfect looking Swamp Cicada hanging out in the driveway, so my guess is that this species is the common choruser.

Here is to the soil that remains unturned and the concrete that is not poured over it, so that these sweet friends can sing for many generations to come.


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Get Sprung

Is everycreepingthing still a blog? Gee whizz, you could have fooled me, I guess it is!

Although historically experiencing a degree of hibernation each winter, recent inactive seasons may have led to some uncertainty about whether Instagram has fully replaced this outlet. Well, rest assured we are awakening from our slumber, earlier than ever before, and we are ready to learn!

Yesterday was almost 70 degrees here in Maryland. It is kind of nuts, and no guarantee that we won’t yet have a blizzard, but I am so relieved. I had forgotten how wonderful it smells to sleep with the window open, and feel sunshine on my skin.

I am also happy to report that despite growing knowledge about our natural world, this time of year is still filled with eternal rites of passage that I somehow have never even noticed happening before my eyes. Continue reading

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What Do Woolly Bear Caterpillars Eat?

Woolly Bear.JPGDid you ever wonder?

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar, the larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth, can be spotted all over the place on the East Coast this time of year. Like most insects except the Monarch, they will spend the winter here in a hibernation-like state called diapause. Many species of butterfly and moth actually spend the winter tucked into their chrysalis. The Woolly Bear is spotted out a bit later in the season perhaps in part because it actually spends the winter in caterpillar form, with a special anti-freeze inside of it that will keep it from forming ice crystals inside its body. Continue reading

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A Polyphemus Moth Grows Up

Three Polyphemus Eggs hatched on June 13th.


My oh my how the time has flown, because just yesterday the first emerged from her cocoon! Here is the tiny caterpillar that almost escaped but that I finally found, after a lot of searching, clinging to my own hair.

IMG_7005.JPGSo furry! So big! How can those two photos be of the same creature sitting on my hand? Continue reading

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Monarchs in the Morning, Lunas in the Evening

Wow. When I guessed that I would post less in my blog once I had a full-time job I was not mistaken. As it is I am barely doing all of the things I once adored, like getting enough sleep, going birding frequently, exercising infrequently, hand-shaking my whipped cream in a Mason Jar, working on Wild Peace Farm

But I have nevertheless done all of those things some, and also joined two book clubs, learned a lot about infectious disease, and continued to rescue caterpillars (#whorescuedwho?). Guys if you do one thing as a result of reading this blog post, I profoundly hope that it is click on that #link which is to an Amy Schumer clip.

But seriously, who rescued who?Monarch 2015

Continue reading

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Black Swallowtail Overwintered Six Months

Overwintered Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail Ecclosing

Winter is truly over. A butterfly decided.

Last fall I brought home an early instar Black Swallowtail caterpillar from Wild Peace Farm. Continue reading

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Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar

Polyphemous Moth Caterpillar

I took this photo in mid-late October at Sugarloaf Mountain while on a field trip with my Eastern Forests class. I cannot take credit for spotting this creeper, nor full credit for its identification as a Polyphemus Moth. Someone else found it, and Stephanie immediately knew it was a member of the Giant Silk Moth (Saturniidae) family that includes the Luna Moth. In this family, the Greek god Saturn’s children and the planet Saturn’s moons and other mythological Greek creatures are represented. The Luna Moth is an astonishingly beautiful insect, and the other giants (this was at least 1.5x the length of a Monarch) are just as remarkable although less well known and less often seen. Saturniids overwinter in a silk cocoon and emerge as an adult moth in the spring, flying, in the Luna’s case, at night. The adults have no working mouths. Since eating is out, their only goal is to find another loving mouthless adult in the dark to lose their virginity to. They find each other using pheromones (I am basing this claim loosely on my memory of Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer). They mate, and the female lays eggs, and they die. The next generation, the caterpillars, grow up over the summer. Seemingly reliable internet sources tell me that Polyphemus Moths often have two generations a year, with some caterpillars maturing in mid-summer to produce more caterpillars that will overwinter and mature in the following spring. This guy was at the end of the larval period, surely on the brink of cocoon season. Interestingly all of the images of Polyphemus caterpillars that I’ve found on Google show them curled up and hanging in a manner similar to this one. This rock, next to the parking lot, did not seem like a choice spot for avoiding the all-too-well-known-to-this-blog dangers of being eaten as an overwintering chrysalis or cocoon. Birds will go wild for that kind of protein in the cold months. So it was unclear what this friend was up to: taking a strange break or choosing a poor spot to pupate, or dying, or maybe something else beyond my mammalian imagining.

I was delighted though, in any case. Two of the Luna Moths I have seen made deep wrinkles in my brain where I can revisit them again and again.

Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon, and he was a Cyclops. SEE why this is the moth named for him? (I mean not totally since there are pairs of eyes, but one per wing, right?)

Polyphemus Moth

(I WISH this photo was mine. It is from GOOGLE).

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Whoa Whoa Whoa, How Does a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Grow?

One time, in the fennel…Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

There were many many many caterpillars. The time was July. And also August. And September. AND also NOW! That is to say, the very very end of October. Yes, the time change and the first frost are nearly upon us. And yes the Monarch caterpillars seem to all actually be grown up and going/gone now. But the Black Swallowtail larvae are with us in force!! No, this blog has not yet lived up to the promise of moving on to other topics. Not yet!

Because on a recent lovely day at Wild Peace Farm, under the blue sky and the puffy clouds and surrounded by bird calls and the most delicious so fresh it’s still alive food, the Farmer, or I, who can remember, spotted a bright green Black Swallowtail caterpillar. Of course at everycreepingthing this is a familiar creature. I have even posted a video of one making a chrysalis in my bedroom. But I did not know that they were as abundant this time of year as the Woolly Bear. The Woolly Bear actually overwinters as a caterpillar– but I am guessing that like their cousin the Spicebush Swallowtail, these Black Swallowtails will be spending the cold dark days to come inside their comfy chrysali. So when do they start making it? Will they survive this weekend’s predicted frost? And also, in addition, what are all these different instars they’ve got going on?

3 instars of the Black Swallowtail caterpillar

A caterpillar is an insect after all, Continue reading

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The (Actual) Last Monarch of 2014

It has been a really special butterfly season. I am thankful for all the fruits Wild Peace Farm has brought into local lives, and particularly for the Monarchs that have touched hearts and souls and eyeballs. The first Monarch friend I made came out of his egg before my eyes in July. This, the last friend, snuck into my house on some Milkweed and surprised me as a 4th instar a week later! He made his chrysalis on my laundry basket while I was in Oregon. And he came out of his chrysalis October 21st, while I was holding the twig I taped him to in my hand, a more beautiful exit than I could have asked for.


last clear Monarch chrysalis

last clear Monarch chrysalis

Last Monarch 2014

Last Monarch 2014

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