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A few weeks ago we found some caterpillars on our palo verde tree. The best way to find out what species they are is to raise them to adults.

Toward that end, we kept one in a container with some food.

It is now a pupa.

So amazing how most moth pupae look identical.

Here's the pupa of the bougainvillea caterpiller moth, Asciodes gordialis. Doesn't it look the same?

Back to the palo verde one, you would think it would be easy to take a photograph of something like a pupa because it is just lying there. Fact is, a moth pupa is amazingly active. It can thrash its abdomen and roll around farther and faster than expected.

Even a pupa can be camera shy!

 

We have a small palo verde tree in our back yard that volunteered.

Last week we discovered it was growing caterpillars as well as leaves. Can you spot the caterpillar?

During the day the caterpillars either clutch twigs or hide under things like loose bark. They feed at night.

 

The prolegs (fleshy legs on the abdomen) are reduced in number, giving them an "inchworm" gait.

See how pointy the three true legs are in comparison to the prolegs (left side of photograph).

I haven't identified the species yet, but they might become owlet moths in the subfamily Erebinae.

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

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It's too windy today for a fresh photograph, so let's look at some moths from the archives.

Some moths are good at camouflage.

As you might imagine, the brown moth above would be completely hidden on the bark of a tree.

Other moths don't appear to use camouflage.

For example this white-winged large lace-border, Scopula limboundata stands out against the dark green background. It is not blending in.

So, is this moth in disguise?

It sits completely still on dark green vegetation with its wings outstretched. Nothing could be more obvious.

Maybe from this direction the coloration makes more sense. Doesn't it look like a dead leaf?

The patterns do look a bit like leaf veins. What do you think?

These moths belong to the family Geometridae. Their caterpillars can also be masters of disguise.

"Nothing to see here," the caterpillar says.