Longtime readers will know that I have a fondness for woolly bear caterpillars, the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella). Ordinarily, I find the charming caterpillars while they are approximately the length and girth of my pinkie finger, a pretty hefty size for a caterpillar. Last Monday, I found the smallest woolly bear that I've ever seen:
Look at that wee, precious beastie! If it's lucky, it will bulk up on a variety of plants (no specialist like the monarch here), becoming the cute, finger-sized chunk that I am used to seeing, then freeze solid during the coldest winter days, ready to thaw out in the spring and develop into a pretty yellow moth.
As I've noted, I have a fondness for these little fuzzy buddies, and I was overjoyed to see one this small... next year, I think I'll have to keep my eyes peeled to see if I can spot the eggs of this charismatic moth.