Stinging catepillar - OUCH!

When you’re lucky you’re lucky. A few weeks ago I got stung by a wasp and it was VERY painful. The wasps were nesting under the rocking chair on the porch and my 4 year old decided to give it a good old shake as she walked by. The next thing all hell breaks loose - she goes bolting across the yard while my wife is shouting obscenities at the flying fleet of attackers. I jump out of my chair and run towards the little screaming victim, only to become one myself. Needless to say, neither of us were happy campers for the next 20 minutes or so.
Ok, so that was lucky. Yesterday I managed to beat that little experience when I bumped into a stinging caterpillar. I was dead-heading some flowers when I bumped into a Saddleback Caterpillar (Sibine stimulea).

I had never heard of a stinging caterpillar, but this guy sure packed a punch! The best part of the story is that the ‘sting of the saddleback is the most severe of the slug caterpillars’ according to L. L. Hyche, Associate Professor of Entomology at Auburn University.

Here’s some more info on this hairy little critter:
The saddleback is one of the most common of slug caterpillars occurring in the area. Its conspicuous form and markings make it nearly unmistakable, even in the early stages of development. The full-grown caterpillar is about 1 inch long. The anterior and posterior areas of the body are dark brown with prominent brown "horns" that bear numerous spines. The middle of the body is green. The green area has a white or cream margin and a large oval to oblong dark brown spot in the center, also with white margin. The appearance is that of a saddle and blanket, thus the common name. Small clumps of spines occur in a row along the lower margin of the green area and at the rear of the caterpillar.

The saddleback is generally a solitary feeder; however, early stage larvae may be somewhat gregarious. The caterpillar occurs on a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and other plants, including corn. Common tree hosts are apple, basswood, cherry, dogwood, elm, maple, oak, and plum. It is most often encountered in late summer and fall.

For more info on stinging caterpillar check this out.
My advice to you is if you see one of these hairy dudes with a red dot on their back RUN! You can bet that I'll be checking around me a little more when I head into the garden from now on.....


The unretirement club?

It looks like Mr. Favre will soon have some company in the unretirement club. Yip, it looks like Michael Strahan (NY Gaints) may be enticed back to the NFL. This new development is the result of Strahan's defensive end buddy Osi Umenyiora suffering a season ending injury during the Jets game. Based on initial reports Strahan is interested in coming back as long as long as the Giants can throw a decent amount of the green paper his way.

Favre and Strahan have a long history and they should have a lot to talk about during the unretirement club meetings (they need a better name for the organization - preferably something that makes a catchy acronym).

Strahan “holds the NFL record for sacks in a single season with 22.5, breaking New York Jets great Mark Gastineau's total of 22 in the 2001 season. Before the sack that enabled Strahan to set the record, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre spoke briefly with him. On the next play, Favre dropped back as if to pass, then suddenly scrambled towards the side that Strahan was rushing from, abruptly diving onto the ground, allowing Strahan to fall on top of him for an easy sack. After the play, during the ensuing celebration, many of the Giants' defensive players patted Favre on the helmet. At least one observer accused Favre of deliberately falling to ensure that Strahan would get the record.[1] Mike Freeman, New York Times columnist wrote: "Yes, Mr. Favre, Strahan deserves the record, but please, handing it to him the way you did, as if you were throwing change into a Salvation Army bucket, is the kind of mistake Favre may never live down."[2] Source: Wikipedia

Well I guess time will tell. Personally I hope Strahan comes back and kicks butt!

Introduce yourself - PLEASE

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Birding Resource: Feather Atlas

I wanted to share a very cool site that Susan gets native (she's VERY famous in the bird world in case you've been living under a rock) made me aware of. If like me, you are constantly finding feathers and wondering 'who the heck does this belong to?' you may find this sight useful. As Susan told me they don't have EVERYTHING, but they come pretty darn close. I will definitely be checking this site out pretty consistently and I hope you find it useful.

Any takers on this ID?