But greenbriers - there are about a half-dozen Smilax species in Ohio - are ecologically important and play host to some very cool critters. One of them, the extremely bizarre Curve-lined Owlet Moth caterpillar, has been on my hit list for years. I have searched scads of greenbrier, which sometimes seems like the proverbial needle in a haystack quest, to no avail. Until September 8. The quest caterpillar is actually in the greenbrier in the above shot, but might be a bit tough to spot. You'll certainly see it well in the following images, though.
Chris Zacharias knew that I and a few others were hot on the trail of this owlet cat, and soon after he stumbled into one at the location above back on September 7 (his first, I believe) he sent John Howard and I messages with details. And so launched my first ever major caterpillar chase, as it was a two hour drive to reach the site. But the following day I headed out at dawn, and met John and Cheryl Carpenter at the site. Our hopes were high. If some annoying titmouse or other caterpillar-killing bag of feathers hadn't taken out the owlet, we were pretty confident about finding our Holy Grail.