Sycamore tussock moth larvae are known to drop in on anyone who’s spent a bit of time beneath a sycamore tree in July.

These hungry caterpillars then venture to skeletonize several of the tree’s leaves before becoming sycamore tussock moths (Halysidota harrissi).


That is, if they’re not devoured along the way.

Chances are, with her long, piercing ovipositor, a female braconid wasp could insert her eggs directly into a caterpillar.

The hatched wasp larvae will then feed on the caterpillar’s insides, break through its skin, and spin cocoons on the poor worm’s back.


This one survived barely longer than the wasp pupation.

Below, you can just about see the neatly cut and lifted lids where the wasps emerged, leaving their spent cocoons and desiccated host behind.


[Though they escaped observation, I inferred this general identification of braconid wasps based on a discussion at  You can read the discussion here.]



The “multi-colored Asian lady beetle” loves to eat aphids & other insects.

It is perfectly natural, then, to see several scuttling larvae on the compost pile.

But, like much of the flora here on Little Crum Creek, Harmonia axyridis is a recent arrival.

After several years of attempts, the beetle was successfully introduced to the United States as a pest control in the 1980s. 

Overwintering populations in Pennsylvania were first observed in 1993.

Now, each spring & summer (and maybe even fall), we host several generations of lady bug.






split skin



I.discovered this larva attached to a tarp on June 2nd and decided to shelter it for safekeeping. 

By June 5th, it had reached the pupal stage.

Four days later, I noticed the split skin and spotted our recently emerged beetle walking across a table top.

Its coloring was still pale, and perhaps the shell hadn’t fully hardened, but I was anxious to return the adult ladybug to its chosen environment.


Back out at the bug-rich compost pile, where its mother had likely laid her eggs and our larva had attached itself to the tarp just days before, we shared a bit of face time before parting.

100_5034cropIntroduced to Canada from Europe sometime around 1860, the cabbage white butterfly’s erratic-looking flutter enlivens all of North America from early spring through fall.100_4749edcrop



Along our creek, the brilliant, yellow-streaked and green caterpillar emerges from its egg to feed.

Soon, wrapped in protective casing called a chrysalis,  the caterpillar undergoes an extraordinary metamorphosis into a white butterfly.

Fully-formed females emerge with two black wing spots, and males with just one.

We’ll often see two cabbage whites engage atop a low plant, commencing a rising spiral chase through the air, perhaps a fast-fluttering courtship to renew this perennial metamorphosis.