If you've read previous posts on this blog you know that Captina is home to a rich diversity of both woody and herbacious plant life. Since plants occupy the base of a food chain in an ecosystem we would expect an area with diverse plant life to attract diverse consumers as well. One of the most fascinating primary consumer groups in the watershed are the caterpillar instars or larval forms of moths and butterflies. Instars (caterpillars) hatch from eggs laid by adult moths and butterflies on host plants then sustain by consuming leaf tissue. A single species may transform through several larval instar stages prior to becoming a winged adult which may take over a year's worth of time. Thus overwintering in leaf litter on the forest floor is common among the caterpillars of this area.
Here are some of the more attractive caterpillars of the Captina Watershed.