Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's in a name?

Names can be a nuisance. They either get it right or get it wrong. And sometimes they correct a misnomer...

Eastern Tent Caterpillar:

This is the variety found in the eastern US (yes, there's a western species) and they are not only social caterpillars, they build a three-dimensional triangular web--aka, tent--in the fork of a branch of their food plant and retreat into it for safety (and possibly for temperature regulation).

Forest Tent Caterpillar:

Okay, looks a bit like an Eastern Tent, but this one is predominately blue. Taxonomically, these two are cousins, both assigned the genus Malacosoma. Forest tent caterpillars, like Eastern, are also social, in that they hang out together with their siblings on their preferred tree when they aren't eating. (Many moth caterpillars are gregarious; butterfly caterpillars tend to be loners.) Forest Tent caterpillars do not, however, form tents…

Juniper Hairstreak:

This stunning little (it's maybe an inch long if it stretches its wings) butterfly's caterpillars feed on red cedar trees. Which aren't really cedars… They're, well, junipers.

A rose is a rose is a rose and by any other name… Gosh, I sure hope so.