Saturday, August 20, 2011

Poplar Tentmaker Moth

On July 4th weekend this Poplar Tentmaker Moth showed up at the porch light.  
The Poplar Tentmaker Moth, Clostera inclusa.   Also called the Angle-lined Prominent
  The Poplar Tentmaker Moth, Clostera inclusa, is also called the Angle-lined Prominent.  This moth sure is odd-looking, isn't it?  Without anything for scale in the photo it looks more like a Poodle or something.
 About a week later I noticed these eggs on a young Quaking Aspen in our backyard.
 I decided to keep my eyes on eggs and see what would develop. 
 In another week the eggs looked like this...
Eggs of the Poplar Tentmaker, Clostera inclusa
    Later I noticed feeding sign on the Aspen's leaves, but I didn't see any caterpillars.  I kept seeing more leaves being skeletonized, but I didn't see any caterpillars.  Then one day I must have been more observant because I noticed the dead-looking leaves on the end of the branch.  These leaves were sewn together with silk into a leaf shelter.
 This leaf shelter was constructed of a uniquely folded leaf, with the second leaf pulled over for some extra room.
Leaf shelter of the Polar Tentmaker
   This leaf shelter was sewn together by the Polar Tentmaker larvae as a place to hide during the day.  I took a peek inside.
Larvae of the Poplar Tentmaker, Clostera inclusa, hiding in their leaf shelter
  Isn't that leaf shelter a nifty contraption?  These gregarious (social) caterpillars grouped in their "tent" remind me of a gathering at a picnic pavilion.  Perhaps they are actually having a slumber party.
    I don't know what time of night the caterpillars head out for their munchies, but I was out late several evenings and saw no sign of them.  However, one morning before daylight I remembered to check on the larvae, and sure enough, I caught them in the act of feeding on the Aspen.
 I believe these two photos were taken at about 5:15am.
   I must have just caught those snacking caterpillars, because at that time, some of them were already headed back to camp.
  I was thrilled to see such a unique looking moth as the Poplar Tentmaker, and even more thrilled to have its larvae camping in a leaf shelter contraption here in my backyard.

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