09.11.2019 Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

There are not many insects that thrive dining on milkweed.  Its sap is a bitter (I guess) latex that is poisonous to most, but a hardy few not only gobble the leaves up but use the poisons as a defense against predators.. If you have interest in how that all plays out, Monarchs and Milkweed: A migrating butterfly, a poisonous plant, and their remarkable story of coevolution has a lot of great information. Aside from monarchs, the other insects that do well on the plant that I see often are milkweed bugs, milkweed beetles, and these milkweed tussock moths.

It is not unusual to find a pair of Euchaetes egles or many eating together but this was probably the most intimate pair I have seen yet.  They reminded me of Lady and the Tramp in Tony’s Restaurant.  🙂

All those bristly hairs are an additional part of their protection from predators as they go down pretty scratchy. However, not all insects predators are deterred by the toxins. This mantis seems to be enjoying a meal of milkweed bug

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, ecology, Insect Behavior, Insects, Nature Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 09.11.2019 Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars

  1. That’s a harmonious side-by-side portrait. Leave it to you to see the two touching tufts of white hairs as the unifying strand of spaghetti in the Lady and the Tramp video.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all have our connections. I loved the movie as a child and that scene in particular has always been there.
      These seem to be rather gregarious caterpillars. I do see sole munchers but often they team up to decimate a leaf in no time at all.


  2. It’s interesting to me that the coloring is reminiscent of the coloring of a monarch, even though they are not monarchs. I love the symmetry in this photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. shoreacres says:

    Little Miss Muffett sought out a tussock
    the better her world to see.
    But when she got there,
    she discovered a pair,
    and cried out, “Oh, gracious! Oh Me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Insects are amazing. I think these caterpillars could apply to work as bottle brushes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Spectacular shot, Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bluebrightly says:

    That’s a cool find, Steve! Yet another memory from back east – I never saw them often, but every once in a while. They are beasts! And two at once, how cool. I love the milkweed bugs too, and of course monarchs in their various guises. Someone should do a milkweed book with art photos of all of its denizens. Maybe you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would be a nice project. It would have to be a long term project as I only have a few images that would be publishable.
      Two is cool. I have seen many on a plant together and someone on Facebook today showed quite a large group…over a dozen in an early instar.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. krikitarts says:

    Double your pleasure, double your fun; two touching tussocks–even better than one!

    Liked by 1 person

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