Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alien Critter

B found this alien critter on his truck Monday night. We have never seen anything like it. We found it extremely difficult to photograph with the camera that we have. But these are the best:


It measured only 8mm long. For those of you less familiar with metric, all of it would fit on a new pencil eraser. So it is similar in size to a  ladybug.

It is covered in light green hairs, having two red spots on its back and more red around the head.


It moves extremely slowly.

To identify it, I sent an email to the UF entomology web page contact. They were most helpful! Even without the pictures that had not attached, based on my limited description (because I was expecting they could see the pictures) they narrowed it down to a slug caterpillar, in the family  Limacodidae. With the pictures attached, they knew it to be an Isa Textula.

I was not able to find much online information about this little critter, but IFAS did confirm what we suspected: those hairs are for chemical defense. In other words, they STING. I also learned that they live in the Eastern part of the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) and that they eat oak, basswood, hickory and elm leaves and become a rather plain-looking brown moth. Thanks, Lyle!

So today our son (with the nice camera) was here and gave a shot at trying to photograph this critter. He tried a cool trick of reversing the camera lens to magnify the shot. It has its limitations, but I was thrilled with his results. Thanks, D!



I told you it was an alien! Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing what one can see when they look closely!! Thanks for sharing.