The other day, the Bachsters and I went to Blacklick Woods Metro Park here in Columbus. One of our first stops (after dropping off recyclables at their recycling bin) is usually the Nature Center. They have large windows for viewing birds (and squirrels and other woodland critters), a couple of turtles, a milk snake and some fish that the kids always love to observe. On this visit, they also had a huge Polyphemus moth. Which got us to chatting with one of the naturalists about our love of moths and bugs in general. She shared with us that the team of naturalists just got back from walking the nearby trail to check out a Spice Bush Swallowtail caterpillar that one of their team members had spotted earlier in the day. A cool caterpillar? We're there!
But, we couldn't find him. Then Little Guy had to go to the potty (we're trying the potty training thing right now). Which was a stroke of luck, because look what we found scooting across the concrete floor by the restrooms:
This is not the original caterpillar we set out to find, but it's a tent caterpillar (or at least that's the one that was closest in the naturalist's field guide on caterpillars). We explained to her that we couldn't find the original caterpillar, so she offered to take us there! So, the park naturalist, the Bachsters, the tent caterpillar and myself all set out to find the rare & elusive Spice Bush Swallowtail caterpillar!
And find him we did! Hello there......
Apparently, these caterpillars hang out in a folded leaf of the spice bush. If you didn't know what you were looking for, you'd never see him! He was a very cool caterpillar. The naturalist also shared some info with us about the spice bush - if you rub a leaf between your palms, you can smell the spicy fragrance on your hands. And we all tried it - it smelled wonderful. In fact, she told us that the spice bush is used to make Old Spice cologne! She also pointed out a "touch-me-not" wild flower & a medicinal wild flower in the nearby area. We were so lucky to get our very own tour of the trail - thank you, Jennifer, if you're reading this!
We tried to find a third caterpillar just for fun, but no such luck. Which was fine with us - we were thrilled with the ones we had found. Maybe we'll find a Polyphemus caterpillar. Or maybe in the Fall, we'll luck out & find a wooly bear! We'll be on the lookout!
Have a nice evening!