Last night showed great promise for a big salamander run. It rained all day, and temperatures crept up into the low 50's. We haven't had a good salamander movement around here as of yet, and I thought last night would be the magical night. My longtime favorite local haunts to seek salamanders is over in the Bellefontaine area west of Columbus. So it was there I headed, stopping by to pick up Bellefontainite and amphibian enthusiast Cheryl Erwin.
March is an incredibly volatile and unpredictable month weatherwise, and last night's sudden shift in conditions bore that out. When I left Columbus, the rain had quit and the ground was soaked - perfect for migrating salamanders. The temperature was 50 degrees - also ideal. Forty-five minutes later, as I entered the Bellefontaine area, the temp had nosedived to 42, which is too cool for big salamander movements. Nonetheless, we trolled some roads anyway, and found a couple of the bizarre unisexual hybrid salamanders - more on those HERE - two Red-spotted Newts, and the prize of the evening, a whopping big Tiger Salamander.
But it was a caterpillar that captured my imagination. Who woulda thunk it? I head out on a cold wet evening to look for hypothermia-defying amphibians, and return with material for a blog on caterpillars.
The caterpillars are well known for their cold hardiness, and if you see a decent sized plain jane cutworm running around in temperatures less than 50 degrees during winter thaws, it is almost certain to be this one.