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Reader Photos – Jeffrey Higgins

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins

Jeffrey Higgins has enjoyed the same 2 mile stretch of the Thames River in London, Ontario for ~50 years. He traded his fishing rod for a camera about 5 years ago to celebrates the natural world, and enjoys sharing his photos on his website and on Facebook. Jeffrey submitted the following photos and asked for suggestions about the species ID. If you have a suggestion, please let Jeffrey know in the comments.

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I was out for a walk in the field, but actually stepping into the woods to photograph spiders, when I noticed a tiny critter on my chest. It was crawling up my camera strap and getting closer to my face so I put down the camera and coaxed the critter onto a stick. This caterpillar was very interesting. It had a small floating body hovering over it’s head that seemed more like a pet on a leash than part of the caterpillar itself. I observed this caterpillar for several minutes and took a good number of photos.
I am writing to you in the hope that someone there can identify this bug for me and provide some insight about this strange thing attached to it’s head. It was not merely bobbing about on a pair of hairs but rather, it was raised, lowered, and twisted about in a seemingly voluntary fashion. So cool!
Caterpillar by Jeffrey Higgins

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins (Click to enlarge)

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins (Click to enlarge)

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins (Click to enlarge)

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins

Photo by Jeffrey Higgins (Click to enlarge)

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4 replies
  1. Mathieu Jambart
    Mathieu Jambart says:

    It was alive ?
    It looks like caterpillar parasited by Tachinadae. It explains the thing over his head. I think it’s a piece of an other dead caterpiller parasited .

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    This caterpillar is pretty unmistakable.

    It is the Harris’ Three-Spot (Harrisimemna trisignata – Noctuidae). The strange, and repulsive, colouration camouflages the caterpillar as a bird dropping. the floating sclerite attached to the bristles is the shed head capsule from an earlier instar.

    I got this info from D. Wagner’s “Caterpillars of Eastern North America.”

    I hope this helps!

    • Jeff Higgins
      Jeff Higgins says:

      Hello Matt,
      Thank you so much for the ID and information. Yes, the bird splotch thing is a bit repulsive but a natural beauty exists as well. Another cool creation of nature.

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