Salt Marsh Caterpillar Moths like sunny places—wet, dry, and disturbed, and can be found from the Atlantic coast all the way to Alaska and the Yukon. The SMC is a very mobile little critter, moving fast and far looking for edibles. The females lays masses of —from 400 to 1,000 at once—on host plants, and she (not surprisingly) dies a few days later. The eggs hatch in four or five days, and the caterpillars hang out and feed together during their first two instars (more than quintupling their size) before going their separate ways.
Adult Bronze Coppers, especially females, take some nectar. Caterpillars dine only on a few species of the dock (Rumex), especially water dock, and smartweed (Polygonum) in the smartweed family. BCs can be found in low, moist areas on both sides of the border from Maine west to the northern Great Plains and south to mid-country. Here in Wisconsin, they are rarer “up north.” One source suggested that the BC, like other coppers, favors areas where drainage is poor.
Hickory Tussock Moths are active in the daytime. They are found in deciduous woods in a range that runs diagonally across the continent from northeast to south-central—from Nova Scotia and Ontario to Texas and a bit west, nicking Wisconsin. After a male and female find each other in late spring, large masses of eggs (from 50 to several hundred) are deposited on the undersides of leaves. Often, when eggs are laid en masse, the resulting caterpillars also feed en masse. HTMs are leaf skeletonizers (they eat the green stuff in-between the leaf veins).
The BugLady has many pictures of bugs about whom she is having trouble finding much information beyond their basic taxonomy, despite the glories of her home library and all the resources on the World-wide Web. Here is a batch of “Bugs without Bios.”
Pandorus Sphinxs occupy North America from south Texas to Wisconsin to Nova Scotia to south Florida. They are found at dawn and dusk along forest and river edges and vineyards where their caterpillars’ food plants grow. Adults nectar on and pollinate bouncing bet, white campion and petunias.
Edwards’ hairstreaks live in savannahs, sand barrens, limy ridges, and the edges and openings of oak thickets. There, the adults nectar on flowers of a variety of legumes, dogbane, sumac, milkweeds (there’s a reason they call it Butterfly weed) and other summer flowers. EH caterpillars are oak-eaters, browsing first on the buds and later on the tender leaves. Young caterpillars eat during the day and apparently stay in the trees, but older caterpillars spend the day on the ground and feed in the trees at night.
Hackberry butterflies are found over about two-thirds of the U.S. In Wisconsin, you’re most likely to see a Hackberry Emperor (HbE) in the southwestern third of the state and along the Mississippi River, but there are records elsewhere. The HbE is considered a fairly common butterfly in its range, but it is often overlooked because it’s flying around the tops of the trees. Its caterpillars feed on the several species of hackberry trees/shrubs. Period. As hackberry trees grow, so grow hackberry emperors.
White-Marked Tussock Moth are in the tussock moth family Lymantriidae, a cold-tolerant lot populated by a number of black sheep including the gypsy moth. You can find them from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean, including southern Canada, in mixed forests or in the shrubby edges where woods meet fields. Because of their catholic appetites, WmTM caterpillars have occasional local population booms and defoliate trees, and Christmas tree growers in the northeastern part of their range are sometimes plagued by them.
Fall Webworms are found in North America from coast to coast and border to border. They are native sons and daughters that have, since WWII, spread through Europe and Asia. Look for them in parks, forest edges, and roadsides. Cherry leaves are a favorite caterpillar food, but they will dine happily at quite a variety of trees including ash, willow, poplar, hickory, American elm, walnut, some maples, and a few fruit trees. A colony of caterpillars can eat lots of leaves, and they may defoliate part or all of a tree.
The Common Wood Nymphs have a “bouncy” flight. The adults generally feed on non-flower matter like rotting fruit, tree sap, dung and carrion, and the larval food plants are grasses and sedges.