Thursday, July 11, 2019

Stinging Caterpillar Cautionary Tale

Last week I was watering my potted plants on the back porch when a small patch on my arm began to sting and burn similar to when I've been stung by a wasp. I had not been near a wasp nest that I could tell however so I was perplexed. I finished watering and took a closer look at my arm. I had about three distinct raised areas and some redness similar to what I'd expect from three close proximity stings but without a telltale center spot where a stinger would have stabbed. I could not imagine missing seeing one very active or several wasps. That coupled with the lack of stab points really had me wondering what was going on. The reaction I was having was similar enough to previous insect bites or stings that I took an antihistamine as I had been previously instructed by my doctor in such an event and I dabbed some aloe vera gel on it. One or both treatments helped take the edge off of the symptoms but I still had uncomfortable welts the next morning.

It was a day or two later that I discovered what likely happened. Again, I was watering my plants and noticed a lot of frass near the base of my burr oak sapling's pot and that some leaves on my little oak had been munched. I looked for the culprit and found some very camouflaged caterpillars. When I saw them I had an aha moment about my mystery skin reaction. The green caterpillars had a red and white stripe running down their sides and their back and sides were covered with feathery looking branched protuberances. I suspected these "feathers" were likely the source of my pain a couple of days ago. Based on when I started to feel the sting, I surmise that I brushed against a burr oak leaf while watering and unbeknownst to me, also one of these green caterpillars.

I grabbed my camera and took some pictures so I could identify them. Then I clipped portions of leaves and dropped the caterpillars I could find in a box. I had nine of them by the time I was done. I relocated them to a tree that could withstand a bit of munching better than my little sapling. The next day I found I had missed one so I relocated it too.

The internet is a wonderful thing. I was able to find out pretty quickly that the feathery green caterpillars would become Io moths and yes, they are a stinging caterpillar. The tips of those feathery protuberances are actually tips of spines that transfer venom to what they come in contact with, like my arm. Not all feathery or hairy caterpillars are venomous but better to err on the side of caution and not find out the hard way by touching them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

New Note Cards - "Fireworks" Just in Time for the 4th of July

While thinking about how to wish my readers a happy and safe 4th of July this year and what photos I could use to illustrate my post, all I could think of initially was how I did not have any new fireworks photos to share. Then I remembered a new set of note cards I recently completed. One of them is titled "Fireworks". That seemed apropos for this post. I hope you enjoy my new photographic art image.

First, I want to wish you a happy and safe holiday with your family and friends whether you will be attending a parade, hosting a backyard cookout, watching fireworks, boating, eating watermelon or one of the other myriad things people like to do on the 4th. Remember the sunscreen, food safety tips if you will be taking food somewhere and please stay hydrated.

Second, I will share a bit about how my new "Fireworks" photographic art image came about. I was hoping to develop a couple of new sets of note cards to be printed on the extra heavy card stock that I then box in sets of six (three cards each of two images). My pop art cards have been popular in this format so I looked
through my photos to see which ones might lend themselves to a pop art photographic art treatment. One of the ones that worked out nicely was of mimosa blossoms and buds that I took a few years ago when my husband was umpiring in Livermore, California. Once I developed the image and started to set up the note card file I needed a title to put on the back of the card. Fireworks immediately came to mind, my husband agreed and so that is what I named the image.

The other card image you see boxed in this set is of a gulf fritillary butterfly sipping nectar from ironweed flowers. If I don't get these notecards listed in my EDCCollective shop before the 2019 Fall Gallery Night Artisans Market at BRIT, I will have a couple of sets of these cards with me then.