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For some reason, our yard is caterpillar central this week. Here's what we found in the last two days.

At least eight queen caterpillars on the milkweed plants.

This caterpillar is on the milkweed too, but it looks a bit different. It only has two pairs of black filaments, instead of three.

That's because this one is a monarch caterpillar, not as common in the Phoenix area.

What's this on the grapefruit? Looks like a bird dropping with a head.

That's a young orange dog caterpillar, which turns into a beautiful giant swallowtail butterfly. I have an older post with more information about those. In that year we found caterpillars in August.

This morning we looked way up into the desert willow tree and there's yet another caterpillar.

It was probably  18 to 20 feet in the air, and still big enough I could get this photograph with a telephoto lens. I would say it is five inches long, maybe six. Based on past experience, I know this is a caterpillar of the rustic sphinx moth, Manduca rustica.

Image of adult moth

Why do we have so many caterpillars right now? Maybe because we had a big rain last week and/or the temperatures have dropped below 100 ° F. In any case, the caterpillars are doing well.

Have you ever seen any of these caterpillars?

You can count on seeing certain insects year after year.

genista1

An example is the insect that caused the webbing on this Texas Mountain Laurel. Can you spot it?

genista2

Here's a closer view. This photo has two insects in it.

genista3

This is the genista caterpillar. Once it completes the pupal stage, it will turn into a small brown moth (Family Pyralidae).

How do you think the moth finds the Texas Mountain Laurel plant?

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Awhile back, I showed you the life stages of the silkworm moth. I missed one stage, however, so here they are:

silkworm-eggs

silkworm-eggs2

Silkworm moth eggs.

In case you are wondering, the female moth in the top photograph laid her eggs on a paper towel. The female in the bottom photograph laid on a cardboard egg carton.