Photo of the Week – March 4, 2016

Last summer in Minnesota, I saw my all-time favorite insect for only the third time ever.  The camouflaged looper is a tiny inchworm that disguises itself with bits of the flower it is feeding on.  It is a fairly widespread species, and probably pretty common, but it’s rarely seen because it’s so well camouflaged.  I’ve written in more detail about this species in a previous post if you’re interested.

While I was excited to see the inchworm, I have to admit I was also a little disappointed.  In the inchworm.  I mean, really.  This species is usually so well camouflaged that it blends almost perfectly with the flower it is feeding on.  This one stood out like a sore thumb.

The camourfl

A camouflaged looper on a purple coneflower at The Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie in western Minnesota.  The head is at the top left…  You can see bits of (I think) two different flowers stuck to its back in this picture.

I’m going to give my favorite insect the benefit of the doubt and assume it was in the middle of a costume change when I saw it.  It looked like it had just started to pick up pieces of the purple coneflower it was feeding on, and still had some pieces of some other flower stuck to its back.  I’m sure it was in the process of shedding those other flower pieces and replacing them with coneflower parts.  But still – it was pretty glaringly obvious as a light-colored critter sitting on top of a dark-colored flower head.  It was awfully lucky I was just a nerdy photographer and not a hungry bird


About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Photo of the Week – March 4, 2016

  1. Pat says:

    What a marvelous creature! But it really should update it’s camo. :)

  2. Wauw, amazingly cute worm with its dress-up parties!

  3. It is a pretty cool looking creature! I’m glad you caught it not blending in so well.


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