A couple of weeks ago, I spotted this fuzzy fellow noshing on the remnants of the Mexican milkweed, Asclepias curassavica (or was it A. tuberosa?).
I believe he's a mature Estigmene acrea larva. If my ID is correct, he will soon build a cocoon to spend the winter inside, and emerge as a Salt Marsh Moth in early spring.
The wind was really whipping around around this day, and it was overcast, which made snapping shots of Esti difficult. I needed a really high ISO to get a high enough shutter speed to prevent blur with the lack of sunlight. But the wind didn't bother Esti one bit. In fact, he seemed to prefer dangling from the underside of the leaves to eat.
In this shot, you can really see his abdominal prolegs, acting like little suction cups to keep him on the leaf.
He really enjoyed eating the flowers as well as the leaves.
He looked a bit like Phil Spector circa 2003.
Unlike Phil Spector*, Esti had a cute gray and yellow belly with black spots, and little orangy feets, um, I mean thoracic legs.
I grew the milkweed as a Monarch butterfly host plant, but have I seen any Monarch larvae? Sigh. Oh well, that's OK, there's plenty of host plants to go around in my garden. Maybe I should plant some Asclepias tuberosa next year...or is that A. curassavica? Sigh...
*Or so I assume. We'd have to ask Ronnie.
Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.