This is Datana ministra, in the same genus as the Major in the previous post.
It was evident from
quite a distance that this tree had seen caterpillar damage. Many of the upper branches were left with
nothing but stout petioles where there should have been leaves.
They are numerous enough
to defoliate an oak of this size. I made
a count of nearly 50 individuals and may have missed a few.
body is basically black with several yellow lines.
Yellow just behind the head
along with this showy orange patch are responsible for that designation.
A pair would team up, with
members of the pair working opposite sides of the leaf. The result is a leaf that still retains its
balanced shape. Many predators search
out caterpillars by targeting irregularly shaped leaves resulting from
caterpillar feeding activities. Synchronized
feeding helps hide the fact that the leaf is being consumed.
Many feeding pairs were found on the tree.
When three caterpillars end up on the end of
the same stalk it begins to get silly.
We should stop here before things get out of hand.
Salmon and Salad Dinner
8 hours ago