And what could be cuter than a kitten? This Viceroy caterpillar is so small-think sunflower seed size here- it is hardly more than a hatchling! Thanks to Kim Kaufman for sharing these amazingly tiny caterpillars with folks visiting the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Their gift shop carries a huge assortment of desirable insect and natural history books- along with the expected birding accouterments.
Another of Kim's kitties (Viceroy caterpillars) a bit further along in the transformation to butterfly. That bird-dropping camouflage make them devilish hard to find in the wild, and less tasty looking to predators.
This is what the final larval-stage product will look like, four or five instars later.
Check out those horns! This particular jumbo sized (about 1.5 inches) caterpillar was found in Ashland University's wetlands and is found immortalized in the Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio - a handy field guide distributed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Call: 1-800-WILDLIFE for your free copy.