Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It's Nearly August
and the rudbeckia hirta are in full bloom. Where there are coneflowers, pugs can't be far behind. Pugs, the colorful and acrobatic little larvae of geometrid moths in the genus eupithecia, can be found feeding on the disk flower parts of lots of composite flowers: you've seen them here looping, stretching and squiggling on sneezeweed, sunflower, ratibida, and now rudbeckia.
The moths aren't much to look at, but the genus is abundant in species. When I brush against foliage especially early in the day, lots of small silvery grey moths fly up; more than likely these are eupithecia as they are very common and clearly present given the healthy caterpillar population.
I guess the caterpillars could be considered a nuisance since they can spoil a perfect bloom with their feeding, but their interesting body poses and pretty coloration help to make up for the damage they do. All geometrids have 2 sets of abdominal legs, which causes/enables the characteristic looping locomotion of this group of caterpillars.
I suspect pugs drop off the flowers to pupate in the soil, but I don't know for sure.