Today I walked past a vine where back in early October I saw a caterpillar which looked like it had two heads. Each end of the caterpillar looked like a black head with white spots. The caterpillar, which is called a Turbulent Phospila (Phosphila turbulenta), has a whole lot of black and white pinstripes with a bit of yellow on its sides just above its legs.
Here is a photo of the caterpillar of a Phosphila turbulenta on a Greenbrier vine. Notice the upper end (the fake head end) is swollen and has white spots and markings to make it look almost exactly like the caterpillar's real head.
The photo below shows another Turbulent Phosphila caterpillar that was feeding on a leaf elsewhere on the same Greenbrier vine.
I encountered these black-and-white striped caterpillars back in October. Now, in late November with winter fast approaching, what are these caterpillars doing? Well, in the leaf-litter on the ground nearby a Greenbrier vine you might find a withered, lumpy, folded-over leaf that feels a bit heavy for a dried leaf...
On the same Greenbrier vine as these caterpillars I also noticed a little pile of trash that was moving... there was a tiny trash collector sidling along the vine. Can you tell that I, like always, didn't get very far on my nature walk? Oh well, that little creature will make the subject matter of my next post and so we will continue this nature walk/field trip on a vine with tiny camouflaged trash collectors hiding out nearby where flashy, pinstripe-wearing "two-headed" Turbulent Phosphila caterpillars are feeding contentedly.