Goatweed Leafwing Caterpillars & Chrysalis
One of my more spectacular finds this last summer was finding a goatweed leafwing (Anaea andria) chrysalis tucked up under some croton (Croton lindheimeri) that had come up in our front right-of-way over the summer. I had noticed some leaves curled up on the croton but could barely make out the caterpillars, only knowing by feel that they were inside. And then I found the chrysalis!
I looked for more and found an empty one and never did find any other chrysalides later on in the summer so either the caterpillars I later found never pupated or they crawled off elsewhere to pupate.
And then a few days later I lucked out and found a caterpillar out and about from their leaf roll nest and I ran inside to grab my camera to take better photos.
I wouldn’t say they are spectacular looking caterpillars but their gray-green coloring and the speckled texture is interesting to look at. I think they are adorable, if I may anthropomorphize a bit!
How the caterpillars typically look, rolled up in their little nest.
I’m hoping the croton will reseed and come back in that area this coming year, maybe get a chance to have more caterpillars. I never saw the adult who laid eggs, I didn’t even realize they were utilizing the yard! A lot goes on under our noses in nature if we’re not looking close enough. We did get new neighbors on that side of the ROW and they seem to be much more involved in their landscape than the previous owners who we rarely saw and sometimes didn’t even know if they were still living there. The place has been empty and for sale since late last spring but we came home from Christmas and it was evident the house had been sold. They’ve since mowed their ROW which I had kinda used as a bit of a buffer and enjoyed some of the plants that came up there and now I don’t think I’ll get to do that. Their house is set back far off the road like ours with a wooded area up front so it is easy to feel like it’s separated but they did mow too close to our daffodils that we had planted and I’m a little miffed about that. So, I can’t expect any nice croton meadows beyond our ROW this coming summer which means I’ll be tending to our little patch and hoping for a repeat of caterpillars to enjoy.
I had to laugh at how long it took me to figure out ROW — right of way. Of course. I love the way that caterpillar looks fuzzy, like the plant. Good camouflage for it, too.