Friday, February 7, 2014


In a recent post on NATURE POSTS there were photos and information about the Cattail Moth Caterpillar that spends the winter snug in the seed heads of cattails.  The post sparked a desire to see if I too could find these interesting little caterpillars, locally, and see how they were surviving the effects of of the"polar vortex". The caterpillar, once hatched inside the seed head has a abundant food supply in the seeds of the cattail.  By binding the seed head fluff with silk the caterpillar insures that it will have protection in order to survive the winter winds-or will it.  On this particular day the temperature was about +9 deg. F ( -13 C) with a NW wind at about 10 mph and bright sunshine.  The cattails collected were along Ft. Wayne's Towpath Trail near Eagle Marsh restored wetland.

The fluffy seed head in upper center has been bound together with silk from the 
 Cattail Moth Caterpillar (Simyra insularis)

After gently pulling apart about 6 fluffy seed heads and finding only dead caterpillars and Cattail Bugs I found a live caterpillar that was very active in the warmth of out home.  This caterpillar crawls across the fibers of the cattail seed fluff.  The caterpillar was in a seed head that was about 75% intact and still very compact.  I can only believe that the very low temperatures of the polar vortex were not survivable for caterpillars in the loosely structured fluffy seed heads.