Have No Fear the Insects Were There

When I first got to Johnson’s Woods, I was impressed by how “woody” the area was. One of the first things I wanted to do once I separated from the group was to look for insects. Over the summer I had an internship with the Ohio Agriculture Research Development Center (OARDC) that involved scouting for insects in fields. I mainly scouted a small broccoli and potato field. Scouting involves looking for insects and looking for evidence of what they had eaten. Along the boardwalk I found a caterpillar walking along. I was unaware of what kind of caterpillar this was, but it was covered in white hair and had some black spikes. The caterpillar was fun to watch because it would walk a bit, and then pick up its front half and thrash it around. I was told during my internship that this is a defense mechanism and an attempt by the caterpillar to seem scary, but to me it was cute. I have since googled the caterpillar, and it was a Hickory Tussock caterpillar whose hair is venomous. It turns out this caterpillar had a reason to be walking around like it owned the place.

Another insect I noticed was the leaf miner. A leaf miner is a broad term for any insect whose larvae mines a leaf (like a coal miner). An entire plant had all of its leaves fall prey to leaf miners, yet I couldn’t help but enjoy the patterns and contrasting colors the miners left. There were interesting loops that remind me of the path of someone with no worries, and the leaves were of a dark rich green, with the trails of the leaf miner being the color of milk. I enjoyed being able to appreciate the beauty of the leaf miners instead of having to note its presence on a piece of paper. One thing my internship taught me was that insects are always present; you just have to stop and wait for them to come out. Johnson’s Woods is filled with insects and has a thriving ecosystem.

The Caterpillar


Leaf Miner Damage

source: myself